Friday, 25 April 2014

Should There Be a Specific Dress Code for Architects?

Text : Nor Azua Ruslan

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

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

8.0] Conclusion:
Should There Be a Specific Dress Code for Architects?

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No, there’s no need for specific dress code for architects. There’s no direct correlation between architects and their works.  Architects are creative creatures and each architect finds his/her inspiration differently.  That is where their attire might affect their productivity.  Depending on what the architect wants to achieve on a given day, he/she will dress in a way that will help him/her accomplish those tasks.

What does matters is of what they deliver in their design to the public. It does not matter how appealing they dress up, but it does matter how appealing their building. We find that the clothes is just external fabric of the body, but the ideas that turn up in their design are something more precious in architectural service. Often, people expect architects to dress creatively because architects are creative profession. However, being creative in your works is worth that being creative in how you’re going to match your trousers and shirt, your skirt and top and not even your additional jewellery or accessories.

I do not have specific architect’s attire but I do like colours.  I like colours in general and I like orange most.  Colour coordination is utmost important (Shirt, pants, socks, shoes and watches… and possibly notebook, bags) and I will feel most calm, comfortable and productive if I know my attire is colour coordinated.  Most of the time, I prefer dark coloured pants. If you are talking about shirt-pants-shoes, most probably it must…1) Light-dark-dark or 2) Light -Dark-Light or 3) Dark-Dark-Dark and maybe once in a while 4) Light-Light-Light.13

Clothing does not make us different from other profession. What we do in each individual profession is the difference.  But often, the way architects dress up is more recognizable than others. Eventough I do not have a statistic to back this up, but those who dress conservatively tend to design structures the same way.  Those who dare to dress differently and dare to stand out in a crowd will have the same approach towards designing buildings.

Architects are also generally known to have a different take on dress code, thus, we can get away wearing almost anything.  General perception is that creative people dress creatively.13

Architect’s clothing is different from other professions because part of it is an image of being an architect or designer and often as a differentiating factor. Moreover, the public seem to expect the architect to dress uniquely as unique as their design tend to be. However, it does not really matters as long as architects have a little bit sense of style and know how to dress up comfortably, which is more important in order to complete their task as an architect. In the past, Richard Rogers wears multi coloured clothing and several years back, architects liked to wear bow-ties. However, none of these important because what we do in each individual profession is the difference. Therefore, there shouldn’t be any specific dress code for architect, because we have enough problems to work on.

Architects are advised to be naturally presentable and comfortable without overdo, but their designs should be more unique and sometime a little bit overdo, but must be practical at the same time. That is why Loo See Chew said I can wear anything I want on my first experience in architect’s company few years back; because she knew that her boss expected more than that.

[O]ne finds that Frank Lloyd Wright’s aphoristic chant----
I’ll live
As I’ll die
As I am!
No slave of fashion or sham
----continues to reverberate through architecture schools and offices, particularly in America. Why would architecture be constructed as being immune to the vicissitudes of fashion? First, because architectural production has for so long been occluded by the phantom of the zeitgeist, most Architects continue to be lulled by Wright’s insistent mantra. And second, because the cost and scale of architectural works themselves has traditionally caused architecture to be seen as being exempt from any fashion system.[21]

13 Interview between author and Zaini Mufti (Feb 2009)
[21] Val K. (1994) In Architecture: Observing the Mechanism of Fashion in fashion. In Deborah F. Architecture, in Fashion. Princeton Architectural Press: New York, p 151