What does solid-orange mean? And what’s with the couch?

I’ve been asked this question a few times now and, well, there’s a story behind it…

In college I studied Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Product Design. There were about 20 student in this particular program and every year we got our own “Studio”; a place where we had our own dedicated work areas and 24-hour access. This was great because it meant that you didn’t need to pack up your project whenever you left and if you had some time and desire to work on your projects you could just head to the studio and do some work. Of course this also meant a lot of long nights in the studio, some, not so “on task” when you have a bunch of sleepless engineers on an empty campus with access to tools.

My sophomore year our studio was a former welding lab in the basement of one of the buildings. We had developed a bit of a friendly rivalry with a neighboring Architecture studio in the basement of the same building often pranking each other; nothing malicious, just good fun. One night however someone had left their studio space unlocked, and we decided to steal a couch they had in their studio. This thing was shaped like a collection of cubes, not a curved line on it, and it was upholstered in a bright orange pleather material; so ugly that it looked cool. We moved it into our studio before locking up for the Architects. We had a good laugh about it with the Architecture studio the next day and they conceded defeat and let us keep the couch.

That couch became a fixture in our studio that year, with people using it as a break area when they needed to step away from their project for a few minutes to think or relax. At the end of the year however, we were instructed to clear out of the studio as that particular space was to be used for a different purpose and a different class the next semester. We didn’t have our next studio yet and where most students were getting ready to move out of their dorms back home for the Summer the bright orange couched was orphaned. I, however already had an apartment lined up for my Junior year so the last night before we lost access to the studio space, we brought the couch to my apartment.

The next year my classmates and I started a club. Students from various years of the design program getting together to enter design competitions. We eventually decided to name this club “SOLID” which is a backronym for Student Organized Leaders of Innovative Design.

Through the rest of my college career both the word SOLID and the bright orange couch became things that I associated with creativity and great thought. I had a website called web-nine.com that I used as an online portfolio for my projects and at one point I changed the splash page to feature the couch (that splash page is still there). So when I decided to start a blog, solid-orange was one of my top choices for the name. If you haven’t noticed I have a penchant for 2-word usernames and URLs (twisted-symphony, thought-head, web-nine, solid-orange, etc.), The couch you see in the header graphic is a something I hand drew in Photoshop; tracing over a photograph I took of the actual “solid-orange” couch in my apartment.

The couch

When I graduated I decided not to take the couch with me, instead I passed it on to the next president of the SOLID club. I’m not sure what happened to it after that. I do regret not keeping it though, it had such a striking appearance and was the right mix of firmness and comfort to really get the creativity flowing (or maybe I’m just conditioned to being more creative when I’m near it). If anyone knows where I can find it, or another one like it, please let me know.

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