Anyone who’s ever said, ‘They don’t make ‘em like the used to’ has obviously never slept of a Hästens bed. Sweden’s oldest and most famous bed manufacturers uses the same materials and commitment to quality today as they did when the company started more than six generations ago.
“Hästens’ culture is very respectful of heritage, but is also dedicated to creating and developing innovative products,” CEO Jan Ryde told Bed Times Magazine in 2010. “We are constantly striving to improve our product and to enhance people’s sleep.”
It is this marriage of innovation with the production process that honors the past that has made Hästens a successful brand not only in Sweden but around the world.
In the Beginning
The story of the Hästens craftsmanship can be traced back to an exact date. On March 22, 1852, 22-year-old Pehr Adolf Janson was awarded his certificate as a Master Saddler by the King Oscar I of Sweden. In those days, saddlers used horse hair to craft cushions and pillows for the horse drawn carriages as well as mattresses and leather goods.
Janson had earned a reputation for making goods of exceptional quality but he didn’t want to force his children to follow in his footsteps.
“I want you to be better than me. To learn and master a profession of your choosing that will let you give people something they need. And by doing so, always be able to look after the ones you love.”
Carrying On The Family Tradition
His pleas fell on deaf ears because in 1885, his son Per Thure Janson took over the saddlery business. As the 20th century rolled around and the automobile made its first appearance, Per Thure could see the market for saddles was about to crater. It was under his direction when the company decided to focus more on crafting mattresses and beds.
By this point, the family had nearly perfected their process for making the highest quality mattresses around. Bed Times Magazine gave a detailed account of this family’s process.
“From its inception, Hästens has been committed to using natural ingredients. Frames are constructed from Swedish pine. Comfort layers include cotton, horsehair, flax and virgin wool. Springs are manufactured from heat–treated Swedish steel and then individually mounted in fabric pockets.”
Growing in the Industrial Age
When David Stefanus Janson took over as the third generation to lead Hästens, he sought to increase production capacity without sacrificing the handmade quality that his father and grandfather held so dear.
“My father was an old-fashioned craftsman—the words quality and craftsmanship were almost sacred. This attitude was imprinted in the minds of not only myself but also those who worked for the company,” David said.
But how exactly can the company meet the modern industrial production method while still maintaining handcrafted quality?
“We wondered how to expand the narrow framework within which we worked, whether to change from small-scale craftsmanship to a modest small industry. To progress, we had to break through the restricting limits posed by pure craftsmanship, and turn to more industrial methods. This led us to think about complementing our operations with a horsehair spinning mill.”
In the early 1920’s this industrial expansion was taken one step further when the Hästens factory was constructed in the town of Köping. The Köping factory remains today as the manufacturing center for Hästens beds.
The commitment to excellence and handcrafted quality has survived to this day. Perhaps there is no greater stamp of approval than that they received on the date of their centennial. In 1952 they were officially recognized as an official supplier of beds to the Swedish Royal Court. An honour that has been renewed and upheld to this day.
The company today is known for their line of high-end luxury beds which can cost as much as $100,000. The majority of their sales though come from their continental beds: A typical three-part construction (base, spring mattress, and top mattress), adjustable beds, and round specialty models.
“The Hästens story is an amazing one,” Scott Link, Hästens managing director for the Americas and Asia told Bed Times Magazine. “Jan’s mission has always been to improve people’s lives by giving them the best night’s sleep possible.”
In doing so, he continues a journey started more than 160 years ago by his great-great-great grandfather.