How the Hide-a-Futon Design came About


Jeffrey Holliday


The year was 1993 in Denver, Colorado and I was in the final quarter of the 3D – Industrial Design Program at the Art Institute of Colorado which back then was called the Art Institute of Colorado.  I needed to come up with a Final Thesis Project to graduate which had to be an original idea or problem solver.  I started out and thought for a bit to see what I wanted to do… I thought some more and more, deciding that I wanted to do a “Multi-Function Piece of Furniture” and originally thought that I would do a new form of a fold up bed.  Maybe something that came out of a cabinet or maybe even a couch.  Thinking some more I thought that that was not really original unless I wanted to really over engineer it and push the ‘Form Follows Function’ to the max or the other way around… so then I thought about doing a different type futon bed.

So while I was thinking about what two types of furniture that I could combine I mixed and matched a bit and I do not remember now if I came across the notion of the old fashioned Murphy Bed… they type that pivots out from the side of the wall.  Well, I was playing around with the idea of having a bed and a set of shelves…. But, I do remember that since it may not end up to be a whole flat type of a standard bed mattress…. I thought that I can use a rolled up futon mattress…

Coming up with a further design I did some sketches and eventually, I did a mat board and foam core model to test my theory.  It worked well.  I then proceeded to work out the design into a final version.  Now remember during this time of the world we did not have the Internet and we had a small library on campus… we were also close to the Denver Public Library.  The cool thing about that particular Public Library is that it had an official United States Patent Office microfiche library to search the patents of the day.  More on that later….

Since this was a design thesis for my final grade it had to be original and patentable.  I looked through all the available design books in the design school library and the books and magazines at the Denver Public Library… where I also had to look at the United States Patent Office records for research… it was not really on a computer and you had to look things up in books… then ask for a microfiche or two or three… then take them and load them in these large mechanical viewers… you can then pay some money to have the views on the screen photo copied onto paper.  I looked and looked and I did not find my idea exactly.  I did find some other old interesting designs and some were really old. 

Once the research was done for my idea I had to do some drawings… back in 1993 the Computer-Aided Drafting program AutoCAD was not as sophisticated as it is today… I do have some of the original design drawings in my archives and may be some hand sketches.  I think I had 9 or 10 weeks to finish the presentation and also prepare my whole graduation portfolio set up.  I decided to build a small scale wood model… the scale was 2” =1’ or two inches equals one foot.  I had a wooden figure doll from an art supply store that was 12 inches tall and was the model that the bed fit.

In March 1993 I successfully graduated from the Art Institute of Colorado with an Industrial Design Degree and was still living in Colorado.  Realize that this far back the internet was just whispering in the wind… I did not find a job in the field that I wanted… it was different back then.  My personal life was also quite different and some of my choices were not the most productive.  I put the Hide-a-Futon in a box and went to Las Vegas in search of a job.  I did eventually get in the production of set pieces and backdrops for the Vegas shows on the Vegas Strip and I learned a lot and grew much.  The Hide-a-Futon was on the back burner and my life was having some rough patches and bumps… However I persevered and I came back to Colorado and had found some various jobs but, I still wanted to build and produce my futon bed design.  With some basic hand tools and some material that I got from a lumber store, I built a prototype out of standard lumber. It was a ‘single’ size futon mattress and it worked well based on the concept that I had come up with by just using a pencil and paper.  I painted it black and I actually spent many nights sleeping on it and showing it to friends and family.  About a year later I came up with some more money and bought enough higher quality pine and I built three editions of the same design and sold them to a local Futon store out in Aurora, Colorado.  They all sold and I am not sure where they have ended up.

It was then that my life was filled with life and trouble of my own making.  The Hide-a-Futon was then back on the back burner…  By 1998 I got my life on track and decided to go back to school this time as a Computer-Aided Drafter and Designer at the now defunct ITT Technical Institute.  I like the school and I learned a lot.  In March 2001 I graduated and got a good job as a drafter and designer of ACM panels. ACM stands for Aluminum Composite Material and it is the same material that the art piece that is behind me in the picture that is on this web page.  It was a good job and I learned much from having it.  Unfortunately, that company went out of business and I needed to find a new job…

The next job I had as a drafter and designer was at a company that produced extruded aluminum egress systems, stairs and ladders.  I worked there for a while and I was also allowed to design and send to the shop an aluminum full-scale model of the Hide-a-Futon that was made out of their specific extruded aluminum parts.  That one of a kind model was very pretty and nice.  That version is now with a friend of mine in the Colorado area.  There will not be another one of those because that particular company that I worked for is also out of business.  This was around 2004 and I went to work for another ACM producer and was again still working in the Denver Metro Area.  Still, the Hide-a-Futon was in the back of my mind.

Phew…! Are you still with me?  

So now fast forward to around 2014 where I started to work on a new iteration of the Hide-a-Futon and it was to be a queen sized futon bed of the basic design that would be made out of standard lumber.   I worked on it with the idea of putting the idea on a crowd-funding website and then building at least one or two of them to promote the idea.  I finalized the idea and it ended up being quite elaborate and contained 96 separate pieces of wood and was pretty large. It is named the Hide a Futon Model 1.  I worked on the CAD file for quite a while and then eventually thought that I would design a simpler version that would be built again out of standard lumber.  I worked and refined that design for some time and I got it the way it needed to be.  It was around this time that I wanted to do a set of plans and put them out into the World for people to see and use.  I would also put a payment button so that those who found value in the Hide-a-Futon idea could pay some money to download the plans for the Model 1.1.  The funds that are generated by the sale of the Model 1.1 plans will pave the way to move forward with other versions and possibly build one myself.  This endeavor is basically starting from scratch using the technology of the World Wide Web and computers in 2017 the hope for more Designs in the future.

Now the story goes to just a while ago where I realized that my skill at creating a good set of Shop Drawings for the latest version of the futon idea would be more hassle that productive… I had already started some sheet layouts and had fully built a 3D AutoCAD file that proved that the idea was sound.  And before I did start on the shop drawings I sought out a Solid Works technician and he created the animation video that you see on this site.  His name is Rolland Gyrofi and he does great work.  His contact info is available from me if you contact me on the contact page.   Then I looked online and found a person who could create a set of drawings out of the previous Solid Works model and to do more.  That person’s name is Ratha Sochenda and he finished and produced those PDF drawings that are now available to download from this website.  I hope you may download them and find them useful to be built by you or by someone you know.

I am planning to build a full-size version out of the wood sizes and hardware listed in the Model 1.1 plans sometime in the future and will post pictures and videos. 

Thank you for taking the time to read about the story of the Hide a Futon and to learn a bit about me.  I hope you find that the design and creation of a Hide a Futon in your life is all that you want in a multi-functional piece of furniture.

Jeffrey Holliday

Here is a picture of myself in front of my Series 6 art piece made out of 4mm Aluminum Composite Material…

more to come…