Why do Architects wear black?

When I mentioned this topic to my colleagues, they laughed, it is amusing because it’s a stereotype and generalization that in many ways is true. This isn’t regional, A LOT of architects around the world wear black almost exclusively.  Does this ‘dress code’ hold any insight into the community of architects and their culture?

So what is black:  most obviously it is dark and mysterious, it is the absence of light.  In fashion black is stylish, sophisticated and pure, it is classic but trendy, it is conservative or sexy.  The color of authority and power however priests wear black to signify submission to God.   So Black is filled with contradiction?


Will clients anticipate that an architect in black is more artistic and will create more unique architecture, reminiscent of tormented artists like Andy Warhol or Jackson Pollock.


Spatially black is the void; it is the silhouette and the shadow.  Architects are forever fascinated with and shaping and creating of voids and space.

so why not lime green, why black?

Well maybe it isn’t really about the black but more about a dress code or uniform.  A dress code is defined as a written or unwritten rule regarding clothing which is worn by members of an organization while participating in that organizations activity….hmmm.

So who are some of the culprits of this unwritten dress code…

ricardo scofidio & liz diller   Zaha Hadid

In black Scofidio and Diller are torn and perplexed (left)
Zaha Hadid is confident and powerful in black (right)

daniel libeskind    peter zumthor

In black Libeskind is surpisiingly happy (for an architect) (left)
Zumthor is wise and all-knowing in black (right)

and sometimes Architects throw in some white just to mess with us…

Herzog and de Meuron realizing they are over budget (just joking)

Do you have any thoughts on why architects wear black?

FEATURE PRODUCT:  Why Do Architects Wear Black?

I can across this book when researching this post, it is a very funny gift for any architect.


  1. I think more or less it’s about confidence. But as a graduate Architect I have to say architects do look good in black.

  2. Architects wear black for none of the reasons you have stated, however I like the romantic notions you have conjured here. Probably we mostly like it because black goes with everything… But this is the real reason

    It’s actually stupidly practical. Architects draw on trace paper with heavy graphite pencils and charcoal. It rubs off on your clothes. Wearing black minimises the visibility of stains so you are not constantly having to change outfits as you move between the studio and meetings with clients etc.

    Sorry to dispel the myth.

    1. Lol. Thanks Will for your comments, the article is supposed to be tongue and cheek and for entertainment. However I am sure the reasons vary widely. Do you wear black everyday? I decided to be adventurous today and wear red. #Feelingbold

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