A book about living with Architects


I really like to be the resident expert. On pretty much any topic. Lewis maintains that my confidence in my expertise belies the depth of my actual expertise sometimes. This is 100% true. But it’s just so much more fun to be certain, facts or no facts.

So, in addition to being an expert new mom (ha), I am also an expert architect’s wife.

And I think there needs to be a manual written on how to live with architects. In my experience, it is the path of unending, highly specific bliss. I can, however, see how it might be frustrating for a novice. Which I never was, of course. So, to that end, I’m going to write another book. It’s either a how-to manual for living with an architect, or just a biography of the one I live with.

The architect I live with.
The architect I live with.

(The title and each chapter title comes from a statement spoken by my architect.)

Title: Everything I Want is Not on the Menu- the tortured life of the modern architect

Chapter One: Specific measurements are how I roll

We’re talking down to the centimeter people. There are no stray bolts or washers left at the end of projects, nothing creaks or rattles. And should a stiff breeze blow through, we will stop and recalibrate, lest we compromise the quality of the experience.

Chapter Two: People mess everything up

I’ve only met a handful of architects who like what you’ve done to their buildings.

Chapter Three: It’s my magical box of crap

For all the minimalism and love of blank spaces, there’s also a trove of fascinating materials accumulating in a shoebox. Bits of plastic, perforated tin, beautiful cardboard. This is very different from the junk everyone else is accumulating. Because it’s magical. Everyone else’s crap is just crap.

Chapter Four: If that dress were gray you’d look just like Chairman Mao

This one is probably Lewis-specific. But maybe not. Architects pay the weirdest compliments. They see beauty in strange places, and so they say strange things about beauty.

Chapter Five: I just don’t see why they have to put a sticker with the brand name on the front of everything

We spend a lot of time removing stickers, decals, and the resulting gunk from all of our belongings.

Chapter Six: I don’t like American cheese, but if I knew that there were an original, authentic, American cheese then I would like it. 

Somehow, knowing the origins, endorsements, and components of a building, movie, or food is essential to the enjoyment thereof. Most of what we inhabit, watch, and eat as a culture does not pass muster. It’s not snobbishness (or maybe it’s the very essence of snobbishness, because it has good reason). Rather, it’s a holistic, process-oriented approach to consumption, that would make the world a better place if either a) everyone thought that way, or b) the people who thought that way were more inclined to zealously campaign and jockey their way into power.

Precision with assistance.
Precision with assistance.

Chapter Seven: Why does everything have to have meaningless decorations?

This angst is why many architects spend tons of money on stoves, lamps, and shelving. It’s why we have bought fixtures from industrial warehouses after months of scouring the internet for fan blades without a scalloped edge.

Chapter Eight: Oh my god, there are so many fonts going on here. 

And if one of them has serifs, you can just scrap the whole document, he can’t pay attention anyway. Simplicity is next to godliness around here.

Chapter Nine: That graphic design is a mess. That company’s going down. 

I’m pretty sure he would buy stocks based on corporate graphics. And he’s quick to remind me of AirTrans, which he totally called.

Chapter Ten: That’s the most beautiful packing material I’ve ever seen. 

Architects see beauty everywhere. They see it in the bizarre and the mundane. I was afraid when I married Lewis that learning to see things his way would mean narrowing the scope of my appreciation. It’s been quite the opposite. Beauty is everywhere, even if most of the manufactured world is unbearably ugly.