MEN (AND WOMEN) IN BLACK: our preoccupation with non-color

Eric Howeler and Meejin Yoon, Monochromatic

Eric Howeler and Meejin Yoon, Monochromatic

A recent conversation with Anon got me thinking about our preoccupation (as architects) with black clothing. We’re all familiar with the pervasiveness of the all-black architect’s attire. I’m pretty sure my instructor last semester, Meejin Yoon, never wore anything that wasn’t black to studio. I guess that means getting dressed in the morning is pretty easy though; everything matches! Go to any review, lecture or conference, and you’re lucky if you see one or two people wearing color. If you do, it’s probably Mark Mack. Or me- I like my clothing optimistic.

So why have we developed this aversion to color? Anon had a good thought; maybe its because between model-building, drawing, and site visits we  have a lot of opportunities to get dirty, and as we all know, black doesn’t show a lot of stains. And, black is slimming,  black is sophisticated, black goes with everything, and black is probably the new black.

A 2008 book, Why  Do Architects Wear Black? elicited the following responses:

Eisenman: “I don’t wear black” (ha!)

Jun Aoki: “An architect is (still) a kind of communist”

Arno Brandlhuber: “They are in mourning about their many unrealized projects”

I’m convinced that I’ve heard about a historical precedent for architects wearing black. Some story about upper level Bauhaus architects wearing black robes… but I can’t find it on Google. And if you can’t Google it, does it really exist?

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