Pehr Adolf Janson had a dream – to make the world’s best handcrafted beds and for five generations, the company he founded in 1852 has had as its goal that people should sleep well and wake up refreshed.
“Before Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, before Alexander Graham Bell made his first phone call and before Henry Ford put the world on wheels, my great-great-grandfather founded Hästens,” says Jan Ryde, fifth-generation owner and executive chairman of Hästens.
The Hästens company began in 1852 as a saddler. Master saddlers at that time were also upholsterers, and as a result, the horse, horsetail hair, the tailor and his handcraft have always been present in every detail of Hästens and its beds. The arrival of the automobile reduced the need for saddlery as the company focused more and more on beds, and soon Hästens was manufacturing the most comfortable beds ever made.
The best beds during the 19th century were considered to be made in Europe. So Swedish master craftsmen did what Swedes do best; combining the standout features of European beds with Swedish ingenuity, craftsmanship, logic and problem solving.
Hästens launches the world’s first frame bed
Production of beds has now been lifted to a whole new level, and the continuous product development that has made Hästens famous has now become the norm.
Hästens was the first company in the world to use a top mattress on a continental bed and launched the world’s first frame bed.
In 1917, third generation David Stefanus Janson decided that the company should concentrate solely on making beds. Hästens’ logo was then designed by Janson’s artistic cousin Paul Janson, the trademark being registered in 1935.
David Stefanus Janson’s vision was to build a “dream factory” in Sweden. A relatively unknown British-Swedish architect, Ralph Erskine, was engaged to design an untraditional factory to be built in Köping, south-west of Stockholm. The building, which was jokingly called “the Tivoli”, has later gained iconic status among architects in Sweden as well as abroad. In 1998, Erskine returned to Köping to expand the building he had designed more than 50 years before.
25 year warranty
In the 1940’s, Hästen introduced a 25-year guarantee on all its beds, and in 1952, the Swedish American Line ordered Hästens beds for its cruise ship M / S Gripsholm, enhancing Hästen’s reputation as a manufacturer of quality beds worldwide.
David Janson’s daughter Solveig, married to the artistic visionary Jack Ryde, continues Hästens’ traditions with her sisters and husband. In 1978, the famous blue-checkered Hästens pattern (currently available in 13 different colors) was designed by Ryde. A modern cubic version of the pattern was launched in connection with the 40th anniversary of the checkered pattern which was designed by the Stockholm-based design duo Bernadotte and Kylberg.
Family traditions are the very symbol of Hästen’s success
The synergy between father and son, parents and children, generation after generation, has become the symbol of Hästen’s success. The children have been inspired by their parents and have always built on their experience. Family traditions have been continued with quality crafts and forward thinking.
“I want you to be better than I am, learning to master a profession of your choice that gives people something they need. This way you will always be able to take care of the people you love the most,” said the foresighted founder, Pehr Adolf Janson, to his sons Adolf Fredrik and Per Thure.
Fifth generation Jan Ryde, is now the owner and manager of Hästens, with one of his sons actively involved in the business.
Walking around in Hästen’s factory in Köping is like walking around in an animation movie of Walt Disney’s. Each department and each employee has its specific tasks. There are no robots here, only 100 skilled professionals making 30 mattresses a day.
A Hästen mattress follows the laws of nature
We spend about one third of our lives in bed so the mattress is very important in order for us to sleep deep and well. Good sleep comes from more than the sum of the different components, more than just the bed frame and mattress. It is the culmination of five-generation sleep craftsmanship using natural materials adapted to individuals. Sleeping on the wrong mattress can cause insomnia, pain and in worst case sickness.
In all Hästens beds, horsehair from slaughterhouses in South America, where horse meat is a delicacy, is used. The horsehair is washed and twisted tight in long braids while still wet. In Sweden the braids of horsehair, which have become curly of the twine, are then opened.
The hairs in the horse’s tail are hollow so that when heated, they absorb moisture. When cooled down, they release the moisture. These are features perfectly fit for beds. The hairs absorb the moisture that is emitted while you sleep and release the moisture after you rise.
At the factory, the horse hair is distributed by hand across what is about to become the mattress and top mattress. A twin top mattress contains 3-4 kilos of horse hair while the bed itself contains much more. Between several layers of horsehair and over the bed bottom itself are sections with felted wool and cotton blend.
In a Hästens bed, wool from the abdomen on sheep in New Zealand is used. The wool gives warmth when it’s cold and coolness when it’s hot.
The pine wood in the bed frame comes from northern Sweden while the plugs hidden inside the famous blue–checkered pattern are fashioned from Swedish oak. The spring coils in the bed are made of Swedish steel. A common curing process makes the steel rigid. The springs are treated with induction so that the outside becomes hard while the core is still soft, resulting in better suppleness. Small spring coils are packed into viscose bags resulting in less rubbing and preventing static electricity, which some sleepers might otherwise respond to.
The mattresses consist of two harnesses, both of which are embroidered. A double bed often consists of one hard side for the man (who generally has the heaviest body weight) and a softer side for the woman. The natural materials adhere to the body.
The top of the line Hästens continental bed takes more than 320 hours to produce andaccording to CEO Björn Kölerud, Hästens is now represented in 37 markets, North America being the largest.
“The combination of springs, pocket springs and materials creates a whole,” says Kölerud. “Other manufacturers may have specialties like memory foam etc., but for us it’s about allowing people to sleep well and wake up refreshed,” he concludes.
Feature image (on top): Hästens Vividus
All images by Hästens
Hästens – The Swedish Dream Factory, written by Tor Kjolberg