The Banana Republic ad with the architects—it's everywhere! And it raised some questions for us. So we asked an architect—we'll call him Frankie Lloyd—who works at "a large firm downtown with an eccentric, megalomaniac starchitect at the helm" how the ad stacked up to his reality. The answers may surprise you!
Gawker: So have you seen those Banana Republic ads?
Frankie: No, I haven't.
Gawker: Okay, pick up a copy of any magazine. Well, any medium to highbrow magazine — the New Yorker or New York mag will work well.
Frankie: Yeah, OK. I saw the one inside the cover of this week's New Yorker.
Wow, the colors of those shirts are very bright!
Gawker: So what is it like being surrounded by nubile 23 year olds in khaki coordinates at all times?
Frankie: I am not really sure, to be honest with you. I think I may be involved
in some different types of architecture than these people.
Gawker: What do you mean, it's not really like that?
Frankie: Well, firstly, these people look really well-rested and almost obscenely casual. If this were a real meeting, the model on the table would have some stray marks on it. More likely, it would be shattered in a million pieces on the floor.
Also, in my experience no architects dress like that - the Liebeskind eyeglasses and black turtleneck/blazer, German expressionist style is still the bottom line at most nyc offices. Most people are executing variations on this basic Sprockets-y theme.
Gawker: Well, you guys do spend a lot of time in the airy conference room overlooking the Hudson, staring at little wooden dollhouses and making flirty-eyes at each other, right?
Frankie: I think this is a myth more dangerous than the "Michael Brady is an architect" myth. The Brady Bunch story is totally feasible if you consider that he was an architect and he got divorced, most likely because he worked too much and cheated on his wife with someone from the office. That part is probably true, but that is where the Brady resemblance to reality ends. Honestly, there is just no way he is at home doing sketches and having Peter and Cindy barge in with their completely pedestrian nonsense and still be able to get any real building done.
Gawker: Which of the ladies in this ad most resembles a lady from your office?
Frankie: There was only one woman with four or five guys in the ad that I was
looking at in the New Yorker. She did not seem to reflect the disproportionately large number of Asian women in the field, so on this basis alone I won't take a stab at this resemblance question.
That having been said, there is a guy with curly hair sitting at the table who looks like a lighting designer I have worked with. Those guys are total lightweights.
Gawker: Do people wear trench coats indoors a lot at your office?
Frankie: People do tend to wear trench coats a lot. I think architects probably
are really into outerwear. In our office at least, for most of the year they blast the air conditioning to keep us awake all day and maintain design productivity. I don't know if this is like an industry-wide practice, but it is very effective.
Gawker: How would you describe your cheekbones, compared to those of the
architects in this advertisement?
Frankie: Yeah, I mean, compared to these people my cheekbones are so highly
undistinguished. I have nothing more to say on this question.
Gawker: How often do ladies put their giant hobo bags on the conference table during a meeting? Do you think that's appropriate?
Frankie: It is somewhat common. One woman in the office rocks one of these when she goes to the construction site. She's kind of homely, but I think the bag helps the general look and it gets her the whistles and catcalls she so desperately craves from construction workers.
Gawker: Do you think these ads will inspire a lot of youngsters to become architects when they grow up?
Frankie: If I were a high schooler with architectural aspirations seeing this, it would probably be too seductive to resist. Five years in a design program, however, at a sufficiently respectable design school will bleed most of the color out of this person's palette and leave them crushed and vulnerable enough to fully engage the profession.