Actualité 17.12.2011

Coup de coeur – "How to buy a present for an architect"

How to buy a present for an architect

It happens to even the kindest people in the nicest families: you find yourself related to (or, bless your heart, married to) an architect.  Don’t get me wrong: an architect can be a real asset to a family.  They have reasonable conversation skills (on a set number of topics) and they almost always have good personal hygiene and they tend to be well-educated (at least they have been to college for at least six years).  At the same time, those six years that they spent in architecture school (a different environment than being at a university—but that’s a subject for another day) can do some funny things to people.  A certain flintiness, an inability to keep from commenting on the settings of movies, sensitivity to bright lights and impatience with the ordinary are common side-effects of architecture education and practice.  These quirks can mean real headaches for those who, already under the pressure of finding good and appropriate gifts for normal people, are met with the challenge of finding a good gift for an architect, who has been trained at college to react to any new stimulation (a new building, a gallery exhibition, the dinner menu, political candidates, your new shoes, a marriage proposal) with either cool disdain or flagrant boredom.  At best, you may see an architect express reserved admiration.  But this positive reaction is especially rare in situations in which the architect receives a gift.

And we know you’ve tried hard: you’ve found those column-shaped plaster bookends, or the Historic Doors Of Our Town calendar, or perhaps the museum-store silk tie with picture of tiny temples silk-screened on it.  You may have even wrapped it up in navy paper with white ribbon to suggest the image of a blueprint!  And the result is invariably the same: your gift prompts your architect’s face to twist into a withering expression that captures exasperation, disappointment, bewilderment and pity all at once.  As a reformed architect, I am here to help you avoid such painful exchanges. In the spirit of Christmas gift-giving, and in the tradition of end-of-the-year Top Ten lists (but make no mistake, this is advice that is sound for year-round gift-giving for birthdays as well as for that perfect storm prompted by the marriage of two architects), behold this list of:

Ten Things To Give, Or Not To Give, An Architect

DO GIVE:  Garments

Selecting clothing with the proper lines (not “style”) takes some confidence; for safety’s sake you may wish to select from the realm of accessories, keeping in mind that female architects wear the neckties and male architects wear the scarves.  Getting the right color is easy: acceptable shades include black, white (the new black), gray (the new white), and charcoal (the new gray).  You might think these shifts  (that have just changed again in the time it took you to read that sentence) express changes infashion.  Keep firmly in mind that your architect eschews fashion itself for its sense of personality and flexibility, and its lack of truth and consistency.  However, she is sensitive to cultural transformations in hue ascendencies as a manifestation of the zeitgeist in wardrobic modalities. If you insist on “color,” you may choose orange—at least for the next five minutes.

DO NOT GIVE:  Electronics

Your architect already got the Wii, Kindle, Flip, iPhone and iPod, etc. etc., as soon as they came out.  However, he might not be able to afford their maintenance, so a gift certificate to iTunes, Verizon, Amazon or your local electric company might be in order.”

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