Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Senibina Pakaian : Dressing Architecture

Text : Nor Azua Ruslan

[ Dressing Architecture : Colour, Style & Fashion ]
In Relation With Architects and Clothing

Original work submitted to the Manchester School of Architecture for the Bachelor of Architecture dated April 2009. Received a commendation in Summer 2010.

1.0] Abstracts
I came from Malaysia, an Asian country and had worked as an Architect Assistant for 4 years in two of high standing architect offices in my homeland. The first of them where I worked following my graduation in 2004 is one of the leading practices, bioclimatic architecture companies, who do not have a specific office dress code. I did my practical training at the same office in 2003 and still remember the first placement confirmation called from Loo See Chew, the secretary who ended our telephone conversation as below;
Loo See: Nor Azua, you can start your practical training next Monday.
Author:  Oh, may I ask if there any dress code in your office?
Loo See: No, You can wear anything you want                                       
Author: Oh! Okay then, thank you[1]

When she said I could wear anything, it left me confused since having had no office experience at the point makes me nervous how an Architect should dress in the office. I had no guidance/reference on what was estimated in the circumstances. Therefore, on my very first day, I wore a nicely ironed flat-collared black shirt, a neatly-ironed pair of beige khaki trousers as well as a pair of polished black leather pumps over a beige camouflage pattern scarf along with a shiny black leather hobo bag over my shoulder. I chose this particular outfit for no particular reason. I simply felt in my nerve that architect shall look good in black tone outfit.

Upon my arrival, I was surprised to see all other female staffs in colourful tops with either miniskirts or washed blue jeans, while the male staffs in t-shirts, jeans and sneakers. It was a casual, relaxed and a nonchalant outfit I always wear during a weekend’s outing or when I hang out with my friends in cafĂ©. These sceneries amazed me. Yes, this unusual scene is totally different from what I imagined. I grew up watching architects in almost all movie scenes have been described with an impression of professional-look; men in dashing coats with matching shirts and ties, while women in stylish jacket and heels; no blue washed jeans, no colourful logo tees, no flirty skirts nor sandal.
However, after few years spent in TRHY, I have learnt that dressing is not important in day-to-day architect practice, but the knowledge and the passion that counts in our everyday architectural tasks. It does not matter how appealing you dress up. The main thing to bear on your work in the office is drawing on the knowledge acquired are five years of training in architecture school. It is an advantage if you are the beauty with brain but not many of us are so gifted. Thereafter I carry on the taught-perspective I had during my training when I came back in 2004. I worked hard and pull the fullest effort towards my works; I woke up in the morning without worrying on ‘what should I wear today?’ Instead, I began to concern more on ‘what should I learn to improve my architectural skills and knowledge today?’
This dissertation considers my interests to look on the issue of how architect’s dressing could give an impact towards their design. Does it really matters or not? On the other hand, I shall look into the importance and the unimportance of the dressing, or the needs of being fashionable to the office. Should the architect be aware of the importance of the Dressing Architecture? Often, we read about broaden discussion about fashion and architecture; relatively about architecture movement and fashion which do not really march the same way but we saw a similarity between them. But I would like to see the architect as the role model of fashion in architecture and investigate how it really affecting does. Dressing Architecture shall look at a few architects point of views.

[1] Telephone conversation between author and Loo See Chew (Kuala Lumpur, 2003)