Architects, David Down says, are known for a stern, self-imposed uniform of black-on-black-on-even-more-black. But it’s a rulebook Down has clearly discarded — his wardrobe is made up of the happily unpredictable. His inspiration? Iconic modern architects Le Corbusier and Mies Van der Rohe. “They did very monochromatic buildings,” says Down, “but in the window, or somewhere on the building, there’s a colour that’s unexpected, or there’s an interesting design detail.”
Down, who left private practice as an architect to become the City of Calgary’s chief urban designer, likens his suits to a building’s facade. It’s the accessories that provide bursts of colour (like his collection of cufflinks and bright dress shirts) and whimsy (boldly patterned socks).
For Down, fashion is a way to marry the corporate and creative, and choosing an outfit is a deliberate design exercise. “Getting dressed in the morning is an opportunity to solve a design problem,” he says. “Who am I meeting today? What are we going to be talking about? You’re essentially curating your portfolio of experiences.”