Where thumbs find support

Four-Point Guide to Good Grip

You may know what a “thumbrest” is, but what about a “forefinger furrow”? No idea? Well, Otl Aicher’s Four-Point Guide to Good Grip states that every door handle should have both in order that the hand can gain sufficient purchase when taking hold of it. Equally important are gripping volume and support for the palm. The findings Aicher arrived at and enshrined for FSB in his Four-Point Guide are as valid as ever. Bear them in mind the next time you operate a door handle and you’ll see why!

The thumb is always seeking direction. Traces of this tendency can be found even on early hand axes. Many objects that are grasped are strongly oriented towards the thumb.

The forefinger too is always searching for direction. The hand’s pointer tentatively feels its way forward, bids the other fingers follow. On some objects we discovered “hollows” to accommodate the forefinger.

The hand dislikes grasping at thin air. It wants to be guided by substance. Bulk to grasp hold of is what it requires. People who play absently with worry stones –pebble-like therapeutic devices that are generally brightly coloured and egg-shaped– unconsciously reveal this fundamental human need.

The hand as an entity requires a form of “support”. The thumb and forefinger reconnoitre the area. Then the whole hand takes hold. As it does so, the ball of the hand is supported. Only in this way can the force be absorbed.

A quick handling test:

Go up to the nearest door and take hold of its handle. Open the door, bearing our Four-Point Guide to Good Grip in mind as you do so.
Has it been met in its entirety?

Repeat the test on different types of door fitted with a variety of handles.
After a day or so of performing such tests, you will soon begin to appreciate how varied handles and the way we take hold of them can be.

Getting to grips

Want to know how the thumbrest and forefinger furrow came about? Listen here!

If you would like to sample a little more handle culture, simply browse through FSB’s digital product catalogue and pick out your favourite design!