Why Do Architects Wear Black?

Well, do they? Obviously, as the question was indeed asked by an industy manager, tells us Cordula Rau, the editor of the same-named book. Inspired by this little conversation – she couldn’t think of a reason and replied “Ask the architects!” back then – she did so herself: since 2001, Rau has asked the question on an international level and they all replied. Their answers are collected in this little book.

All photos © Dimitrios Tsatsas, Stylepark

All photos © Dimitrios Tsatsas, Stylepark


Why Do Architects Wear Black?

Cordula Rau (ed.)

Springer Verlag, Vienna & New York


ISBN-13: 978-3211791912




Answers of 100 contemporary architects, designers and draftsmen, handwritten, more or less decipherable, and ranging from amusing to programmatic statements.

So why black?

(Quoted from Stylepark, ill. ib.:)
“They’re all Existentialists,” writes Thomas Ende, and Peter Conradi cofirms this when he jots “Because they wish to appear interesting + appear to be Existentialists.” “Black means you can’t really go wrong and you don’t have to change that often,” suggests Jürgen Mayer H. “Black makes you look thin,” opines Stefan Behling, “and people notice your eyes better,” continues Gregor Eichinger. Only Christoph Mäckler tries to provide a serious answer: “Because they believe they need to stand out from the bourgeois society whence they come if they are to be real ‘artists’.”

Black makes you look skinny. Stefan Behling, Stuttgart © Stylepark

Black makes you look skinny. Stefan Behling, Stuttgart © Stylepark

Of course, there are the exceptions, those who simply sidestep the trap the question sets. “I don’t wear schwartz,” writes Peter Eisenman with the masterful touch of a New York intellectual. Dietrich Fink, by contrast, steps out of line and simply offers a one-word response: “Green”. That’s the way it goes with questions that cannot really be answered: You ask about black and someone answers green. Jacques Herzog prefers to joke: “black, nothing occurs to me really, probably because so many architects wear it?” Peter Haimerl opts to rhyme things blackest: “Architects wear black … because they want to have the authority of black capes, the liberty of apes, and the visibility of nocturnal capers.” And Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani quickly extricates himself from the tricky situation and notes: “I simply do not know: I do not wear black and yet I am an architect all the same.” So what are we to think? That there are black, white and colored architects, who think in black and white and color , and build black, white and colored houses? Sorry, but all we wanted to know was why the clothes.

[…] Why black? “Because they fear for their futures,” suggest the cooperative futurologist Wolf D. Prix of Himmelblau. And Hani Rashid believes that black serves “to disappear into space”. And for Mathias Sauerbruch there is a very serious reason for the question about color: “Fear”. And Albert Speer is even more perspicacious: “Because life is so sad.”

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