Hard and sharp edges on the front surface and soft on the rear to promote pulling. Handle shaped like arrow shaped to indicate direction. What if the front was textured to look filthy so that people automatically grab the back surface?
Soft edges all around and nowhere to grip onto. Concaved inwards towards door to indicate pushing direction.
Afterthought: I forgot to add the push/pull text onto it.
Possibly the best case is a door that opens both ways. With that out of the way I feel like this needs to go further and be more adaptible to different doors/contexts.
My first quick suggestion based on how I hold my hands when pushing/pulling is to define horizontal = push and vertical = pull. That way there is still enough freedom to adapt the concept to the individual door/room/building.
An other, idiot proof, way might be making the push side unpullable (just a flat surface on the door, without an undercut or nook to pull on), and make the pull side unpushable. Maybe a rope, though that seems tacky, but working with a flexible material that communicates that pushing makes no sense might be cool.
I have been toying with this idea too.. I would love to see a shape or surface that itself invites pushing over pulling and vice versa.
A flexible element is a funny idea. It can also be a simple rounded cylinder that sticks out from the door for the pull version, sits horizontal for the pushing version and vertically for sliding doors.
A few days ago I had the idea to create a conic element that can only be pushed yet still looking like a doorhandle. The pull version would then look like the continuation of the conic shape but with the sharp side into the door, signifying that it needs to be pulled, like a cork.
Another way, I wonder how that will work out, is to have a standard doorhandle that when turned, slightly moves forward or backward, giving the person the idea and feeling of where the door needs to go.
I like adding an icon or text too, that always works better.
The second concept works best if the limp, flaccid pull sausage gets a bit of a breeze and wobbles about, clearly signaling its unpushability.
Haha I love this description!
I like the idea of a flexible pull handle. We could use the tactile feedback and make it squishy in the direction that it is not meant to be used, signalling that it doesn't work, and solid in the direction that it is meant to be used, signalling that it does work.
Someone commented on my first concept above that they would call it 'pavlov's handle' for the forced affordance. Maybe the handle could drop a positive reward each time it is used the correct way, with no reward when used incorrectly. Will sketch it up.