Tag Archives: comfort

Then and Now: A Brief History of Futons

Aside from sleeping bags, air mattresses and perhaps a giant sponge, no piece of lounge furniture is more portable than the futon. At the same time, the comfort, style and durability of the futon is equal to the nicest bed you can find. With both portability and quality, you would think that the futon was a state of the art invention among the world of furniture. The truth is, futons have been around for hundreds of years, and they’ve certainly come a long way.

20110626_futon01 BF_Futon8inSM For thousands of years, cotton has been used as a main source of bedding. While some civilizations used straw mats, woven ropes, and even a wooden slab, the ancient Babylonians, Mesopotamians, and Egyptians preferred cotton as their bedding material. Due to its loftiness and breathability, cotton stood alongside silk and wool mattresses as the optimal product for sleeping by the upper class.

roman_bed roman But it wasn’t until the 17th century when cotton bedding would evolve into the futon.  In Japan, “bedclothes” were made by stuffing cloth with cotton and wool, and spreading them out on a special kind of flooring known as “tatami”. Tatami was a series of mats made of rice straw, and comprised most of the flooring in Japanese homes.

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To accommodate the light, sturdy flooring, the Japanese invented an extremely lightweight and portable mattress to lie out when sleeping, then roll up and store away after waking up. The “futon”, which comes from the Japanese word “bedding”, consisted of long staple cotton, the most expensive cotton ball. It was important to use long staple cotton because long staple cotton would keep the mattress from pulling apart, and also prevent lumps from forming.

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Long-staple cotton is any cotton with fibers from 1 1/8″ to 2 1/2″ long

Despite its efficiency, the futon was only available to nobles. Rich people could afford bedclothes, while common people would sleep on straw mats. It wasn’t until the 18th century that cotton manufacturing would introduce the futon to all social classes. Futons flourished in Japan, and became almost a requirement for bedding among all citizens. But when would the futon finally come to America? In fact, our discovery of futons was just about as quick as simple as the futon itself! In the 1970s, furniture design William Brouwer visited Japan, and was extremely fascinated with the efficiency and comfort of the Japanese futon. He was convinced that the portability and ease of futon mattresses would be perfect for Americans living in large cities with small apartments.

During its migration, several factors would change about the futon to accommodate Western style, including a higher mattress thickness, and the incorporation of different materials outside of cotton. Eventually, Americans would have a variety of futon styles to choose from, including combinations of innersprings, pocket coils, polyurethane foam, memory foam, wool and polyester as well as traditional cotton.

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In addition to superior cotton batting, our Serta Redbud mattress consists of memory foam, polyurethane foam, and cloth pocketed coils to enhance comfort and longevity. Our Wolf EcoCloud mattress is custom-made, just for Shop4Futons, and consists of superior, high-quality cotton and foam that ensures resiliency and durability.

Also, since sofas and chairs were far more customary in American society, Brouwer invented a sofa frame that would reflect the same affordability and simplicity as the futon.

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Of course, companies and manufacturers would take the concept of futons and market them as cheap furniture, but this stereotype couldn’t be further from the truth. Futons can certainly tend to cost less than your average sofa bed or lounger, but the resilience and quality of both futons frames and mattresses are as high-end as anything you’ll find in a furniture store.

There you have it. A brief history of futons! Don’t you feel smarter now?

The Perks of Being a Futon

Aside from an uncanny ability to collect crumbs, coins, and all other bits and pieces that might fall from the hands and pockets of the average lounger, the conventional sleeper-sofa  can be a thorn in the side of the modern furniture world. For starters, the size and weight is enough to call the movers, as the average weight of a three-seater is over 300 pounds, while a five- piece sectional can weigh upwards of 1200 pounds! Just look at this Craigslist ad:

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Here are some quick reasons why choosing a futon package is an all-around better solution:

Customizable: Futons offer an endless array of sizes, finishes and arm styles. When ordering a futon, you aren’t just choosing an all-in-one piece of furniture. With wooden frames, you can select between a wide variety of types, such as bi-fold, tri-fold, and Savannah sofa bed.

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Once you have your frame, you can choose your level of comfort with a futon mattress that fits perfectly.

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Add the infinite selection of machine-washable mattress covers that are out there, and there’s practically no limit to the designs you can make.

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Convenient: Futons are far lighter and far less bulky than conventional sofas. The average weight of most of our wooden frames is around 50 pounds, and many futon mattresses are only slightly heavier. In order to transform your lounger into a bed, you certainly won’t need to throw the cushions aside to play “Tug of War” with a flimsy spring mattress. Many of our futon frames feature simple mechanisms that convert the frame from sofa to sleeper in one fell swoop.

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Right to Your Door: In the past, it would have been crazy to suggest the idea of using only two hands to order and set up an sofa bed, all from the comfort of your home. But with futon frames and mattresses, you don’t need a pickup truck and a team of people. The packaging and assembly of all our futon products are tailored for a one-man job. Thanks to futons, it’s never been easier to customize your home furniture without ever leaving your home.

Now all you’ll have to worry about is getting rid of that old, creepy sofa you’re sitting on right now.

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