At the upcoming Heimtextil, Hästens, the oldest bed manufacturer in Sweden, will show how traditional craftsmanship, innovative spirit and the processing of exclusively natural materials, such as wood, linen and horsehair, can be combined to ensure a sustainable good night’s sleep.
And if you have always wanted to know how kings sleep, you should pay a visit to the long-established and innovative family business at Heimtextil: Hästens have already been appointed twice by the Swedish royal family as purveyors to the court – a sovereign honour that arguably no-one dreamt of when they were founded in 1852.
In the same year, when the Frenchman Henri Giffard invented the first airship, Pehr Adolf Janson founded the company Hästens as a saddlery business (‘Häst’ means ‘horse’ in Swedish).
Initially, saddles for horse-drawn carriages were manufactured at their headquarters in Köping, but these increasingly lost horsepower as the automobile triumphed. In order not to end up, together with the carriages, in history’s mobility cemetery, Hästens shifted their focus from sitting up to lying down: from 1900 onwards, the former ‘saddle start-up’ concentrated exclusively on producing beds. The demand for these had risen in recent years anyway, because the popular horsehair used to stuff saddles was also suitable for mattresses.
A wide-awake family business
As with the saddles previously, the beds were produced completely by hand – and this is still the case today. It’s a hallmark of Hästens that is also reflected in the composition of their workforce: “More than half of our 220 employees worldwide are skilled artisans”, says CEO Jan Ryde. He has been in charge of the former master saddlery, now in its fifth generation, since the Eighties.
But it’s not just the owners of the company that make Hästens a family business: according to Ryde, many of the company’s artisans also belong to families who have worked for them for generations. “Whether it’s a pillow, a mattress or a bed frame – in our company, knowledge about making beds by hand is passed down and constantly refined”, as Ryde relates. And a hand-crafted good night’s sleep is evidently well-received: in 2018, Hästens opened 38 new subsidiaries worldwide; in 2020, turnover is expected to be in three digits (2018: 72 million euros).
Innovations for traditional dreaming
At the upcoming Heimtextil, from 7 to 10 January, the company will be presenting the latest version of its 2000T model – a compact central European bed that, together with its three spring systems and a mattress, consists of a total of 37 layers of natural materials, including linen, cotton, wool and horsehair. These are sewn together stitch by stitch with a 30 cm long needle; Hästens’ master bedmakers take a whole four days for each side seam. Sweden’s oldest bed manufacturer has shown over and again that there is an innovative strength in this calmness: so, in addition to developing the pocket-sprung mattress, the company was also the first manufacturer to use a support mattress on a central European bed.
Is it true that there are country-specific sleeping preferences? “Our figures actually show that people in the German-speaking markets, for example, prefer to sleep in softer beds”, says Ryde, Hästen’s CEO. However, he doesn’t reveal what kind of bed the King of Sweden sleeps on: “Our beds are valued by prominent personalities across the world as well, but, of course, we do not divulge the sleeping preferences of our customers.” By the way, he himself sleeps for seven to eight hours a night – according, of course, to whether he’s away on business or not.