No doubt there are more important things to write about today – Trump’s impeachment trial is on at the moment, the housing crisis continues to be a crisis, the pandemic continues to rage even while the vaccine starts to be rolled out – and New Zealand argues about whether men should have to wear a tie in Parliament. The big things – the important things. The media loved it.

Rawiri Waititi of the Maori Party, demonstrating an understandable dislike for the colonial noose

I for one am very pleased to see that Speaker Mallard has relaxed on that rule, previously strictly held, that men should have to wear a tie. For a start, it’s more sexist than it is racist. Women are never forced to do this stupid thing with their neck. Nor do they have to wear a suit. I’m in complete agreement with Rawiri Waititi, that a tie is an outdated and nasty piece of material, a colonial noose. It is that indeed and more besides. Although I should point out to Rawiri that a gentleman should not wear a hat indoors.

A more modern take on the tie, by Rakai Wharewha

I’ve never been into ties – hardly ever worn one – despite various people saying I would look good in a suit (I wouldn’t, and I don’t). But putting a piece of coloured cloth around your neck and tying it into a complex knot does not suddenly make me into a more respectable person. I’ve been kicked out of snooty old clubs before for not wearing a tie or a jacket or the right type of leather on my shoes. I hate ties. I especially hated my 21st birthday, when the three most important women in my life each gave me a tie. My mother, my sister, and my girlfriend. Curiously, all red. Not so curiously, none were ever worn. I will not be tied up like a dog with a leash.

No tie ! Still snappy !

But architects have never really been about ties – at least not the long dangly straight ones. No, instead, for some strange reason, architects were known by many for wearing a bow tie. Sir Miles Warren loved to wear a bow tie. Paris Magdalinos loved to wear a bow tie. Many architects used to wear a tie. Corbusier did. Mies van der Rohe did not. But Walter Gropius liked to wear one. And Peter Eisenman. And so too, apparently, everyone’s favourite Dad, Mr Louis Kahn.

Sir Miles Warren, complete with almost obligatory bow tie – his uniform at the time

There’s an argument that architects would wear a bow tie so that they would not be dragging a piece of material through the drying ink on their drawing. Remember ink? Remember hand drawing?

Architects at work back in the day – some with bow ties, some without

No? Hmmm. I thought so. Nor, clearly, does the stock photo industry, with this pathetic image below, supposedly of an architect at work: no one wears a hard hat at their work desk. Nor do they wear it tied under their chin with a ribbon. Nor do they draw with a craft knife, and especially when it is round the wrong way… Nor should they measure off their drawings with a measuring tape. And lastly, nor should they wear a tie. Its all so clueless….

Wrong, wrong, wrong – its all wrong.

Architects have always been respectable members of society, and usually are well dressed, despite a lack of ties. Zaha did not wear a tie. Sir Norman Foster sometimes wears a tie, but mostly not. Frank Lloyd Wright mostly used to wear a cravat, I think, which is a floppy sort of tie for the effete dresser: or for French people. Mostly, as you have probably already heard many times already, architects supposedly wear a black polo neck jersey. Along with glasses with wacky circular lenses. Who are these kids meant to be?

Three little book warriors are ready for class.

Maybe that is just a thing for Americans. Maybe here the uniform for architects is more likely to be an IceBreaker skivvy. Some cold days in winter our entire office is wearing an IceBreaker. Not a bow tie in sight. Certainly not a tie in sight.

Let’s get back to work – on the really important things in life, in New Zealand. On housing. On building our future. On solving child poverty. On saving the planet from an excess use of energy and a resulting excess of CO2. One step at a time. Let’s start with housing first.

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