I’ve started to dread telling people where I work. The conversation inevitably comes up every now and then. Whenever I tell someone I work at an architecture firm, they are almost physically taken aback, as if I had just told them they are in the presence of the Queen of England.
“Oh! You’re an architect!?”
“No, no, I just do marketing AT an architecture firm.” I explain.
“Oh, okay.” They seem much calmer, then they ask the next question I dread, “How do you like it?”
Here I hesitate, “Well—”
“Oh no, they’re horribly egotistical, aren’t they? I bet they’re really stuck up, aren’t they?”
“Well no, but—”
But they are really, really fascinating. And it is really strange to describe to people. It’s a curious thing to watch architects and designers moving around in everyday life. Simple things, like going to lunch, become the most curious adventures for them.
A new Mediterranean restaurant opened up literally in our office’s backyard. Naturally, a whole posse went to lunch together to check out the new restaurant. I, of course, had to ask them how the restaurant was when they returned. They had nothing to say for the food, not a word on the service or atmosphere. The ONLY thing anyone could tell me was how FANTASTIC the crown molding at the restaurant was.
In another example, I overheard an in-depth conversation about the pros and cons of certain brands and price-points of laser tape measures. After work hours. Who stays after work to compare laser tape measures? Architects do. Architects and designers stay hours after work to talk about laser tape measures.
Then there’s the excessive use of terms for every-day items that are totally confusing. Toilet rooms (can we just call them bathrooms like normal people? Even water closet would be acceptable). Butt-hinge (not joking on that one). Partition (that one’s a wall). Egress (still not sure on this one). There’s no end to their peculiar language.
It’s a surprising industry. Though maybe it’s not the industry, just my particular firm that possesses so many quirks. And while it’s one thing to try and explain this peculiar culture to other people, I quite enjoy the day-to-day intrigue of working with architects (when you’re not one).