A Swedish Midsummer Night’s Dream

Sampling heavenly beds from the Swedes, on the occasion of the summer solstice.

  • “The person who slept before you in that bed is a princess from Egypt,” declared Ted, the salesman at Hästens, a luxury bed store on Madison. As the city’s Swedes picnicked and pranced at the Midsummer Festival in Battery Park, he was massaging the Observer’s ego (not that it needed more cushioning) as we sank blissfully into the Vividus, a top-of-the-line cot from their forebears.

    The Jansons of Köping, saddlers snipping away at the manes and tails of their equine wards, pivoted to horsehair milling and its kin—mattress making—in 1852. Today, the fifth-generation family-owned business delivers beds to modern royals like Miss Egypt, who, as we recline, is getting three of those 100,000 dollar beds made custom for her (“one for each member of the family”). The brand also supplies the King of Sweden.

    Closer to home, Stockholm-born hotelier Jenny Ljungberg appoints c/o The Maidstone in East Hampton with the grey checked models, splashily seventies against their yellow striped wallpaper. (Incidentally the same decade when fourth-gen manager Jack Ryde designed the printed fabric for a trade fair.)

    Gingham on the outside, horsehair, wool, cotton and flax on the inside, each Hästens (Swedish for “of the horse”) takes 160 hours to make by hand, the work of several skilled craftsmen and one sleep engineer, Jan Erik Leander. An architect by trade, he devised the proprietary backstitch that creates the tufting on the mattresses as well as the individually cogged springs that together, regulate the bed pressure. Ted, an erstwhile furniture designer himself, also explained that the tubular shape of the horsehair wicks heat away better than foam. It also doesn’t leach chemicals onto the sleeper’s skin.

    “Feel the fibers pushing up against you?” he asked. “They’re redistributing the weight around your body.” We moved an inch and the hollow space we just created pushed up against us, akin to being on a (very stable) waterbed.

    Like the princess and the pea, we bounced from cot to cot—sampling medium, soft and firm, in an array of colors, from cobalt to beige. (You can customize the legs, too.) A Lazyboy-like contraption caught our eye, and it turned out to be an adjustable lounge for one. Operated by wireless control, it moved on a single piston to lift or stretch the legs, seamlessly and almost soundlessly. That, Ted shared, was now in the Philly music studio of a certain drummer on the Tonight Show. At the Soho store, he, too, was eyeing the Vividus for his city apartment.

    Click on the slideshow for gorgeous bed spaces using Hastens.

  • The Janson family of Koping, Sweden started out as saddlemakers before turning to horsehair milling and mattress production. (Hastens)

  • Each cushy bed is stitched by the hands of a skilled artisan. (Hastens)

  • Hastens is the official purveyor of mattresses for the King of Sweden. (Hastens)

  • A muted tone of the trademark gingham works well in a sleek city apartment, too. (Hastens)

  • Collaborating with Hastens, Angela Missoni recreated a scene from the princess and the pea, with Missoni knit throws strewn into the mix. (Hastens)

  • Mexican design collective Nel designed this bedroom using Hastens beds and dozens of newspaper and magazine racks. "We decided to recreate our vision of the perfect morning. You've had a comfortable eight hours' sleep and have all the magazines and newspapers you could desire delivered to you." (Hastens)

  • Further on in the collaboration series, Spanish artist Jaime Hayon created a dream space for kids. (Hastens)

  • Indian industrial designer Satyendra Pakhale created this room of posh textures befitting a Park Avenue townhouse. (Hastens)

  • Sleeping one, the Lenoria lounge adjusts by wireless control. Perfect for lazy afternoons at the poolhouse. (Hastens)

  • If you find yourself in East Hampton, sink into a Hastens bed at the modernized tannery that is the Maidstone hotel. (Hastens)