What are the Andrews booths really telling us?

Brown’s interior designers seem to have predilection for strange, colorful, modern furniture.  For example, the “why the heck am I sitting in a giant gumdrop” Candy Land-like chairs in the SciLi or the bright orange chairs that most closely resemble a horse hoof in Metcalf make zero sense. Andrews Commons is no exception. I’m talking about that 50-foot booth that extends across Commons, covered in an aggressively neon green fabric that features the most cryptic text. These couches must be telling us something… but what? Here are a few explanations:

1. National Treasure code

"Autor Sammel"

“Aurtor Sammel”

The couches likely conceal some sort of clue that could lead us on a National Treasure-esque adventure. If you look through a mirror upside down, one part of the couch kind of says “Aurtor Sammel,” maybe most likely a member of the American Freemasons. All we need is unflappable amateur cryptologist Nicholas Cage and a 20-gallon vat of lemon juice to reveal the other messages that the booth may be hiding.

2. A psychological test

These booths may be some sort of strange, literary Rorschach test. The 2013-14 Andrews Hall construction project may have really been secretly sponsored by the CLPS Department, to study subjects’ perceptions of manipulated texts. Hidden microphones record the most common words people say when sitting at these booths, studying how people are unconsciously influenced by their surroundings. Some of the most common words and phrases recorded so far in Andrews include “butterfly,” “carnal desire,” “this cookie cake is banging,” and “yo, I’m not going to throw my trash away because I’m an inconsiderate grapefruit.” Weird.

3. CAPTCHA, Inc’s headquarters had too much extra fabric, and donated it to Brown.

I’m sure the makers of CAPTCHAs, those frustrating tests you’re forced to fill out when signing up for an email or a Club Penguin account, decorate their offices appropriately. For their offices, the entire screenplay for the Bee Movie was probably split up into 2-4 word chunks, impossibly distorted, blown up, and printed on wallpaper and fabrics that cover every available surface in the building, testing whether visitors and workers are humans or computers. Every day, a CAPTCHA employee stares at the wall of their cubicle trying to decipher what the test says. “Maybe, I’m really not a human?” they wonder. Hmm.

4. Subliminal marketing

"Go CVS"

“Go CVS”

If you sort of squint, one part of the booth looks like it says “go CVS” (particularly if you were like me as a kid and had trouble writing your “S”s the right way). This leads me to expect the booths are just concealed advertisements, subconsciously encouraging students to shop at CVS. By the way, did you know that CVS has all the necessities a college student may need? Featuring a handy self-checkout line and open until 12 a.m., CVS is conveniently located on Thayer St—

—Whoa. What just happened to me?

5. The fabric pattern was just an artistic decision.

Maybe the text was simply an artistic choice, a pointless pattern that has been misinterpreted by me and others, who fall victim to the natural human obsession to find patterns in abstractions. It is perhaps a metaphor for our doomed attempts to search for meaning in this meaningless universe.

Yeah, probably not. Does anyone else feel the need to go to CVS with me right now?

Images via Kenji Endo ’18. 

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