A futon adds a quintessential Japanese touch to your home coupled with an unmatched sense of comfort and panache.
What Is A Futon?
A futon is a cotton mattress that was conceptualized in Japan during the 17th century. The simple concept of a thin mattress that could be effortlessly rolled up and stored in any nook of the homemade futons a popular concept amongst the Japanese community.
The futon was initially introduced in America during the late 70s’ and instantly became a preferred bedding option as compared to the bulky spring mattresses that were considered to be a standard option in that era.
Futon manufacturers used a cotton cover for the exterior and filled it with a few layers of soft cotton fiber. The lightweight construction of a futon provided users with a novel option of converting their mattress into a sofa bed at any given time.
Over time, manufacturers provided a slatted wooden, foldable frame with the futon wherein the clientele could transform the mattress from a bed to a couch when required. Thereafter, this flexibility in design has made futons a favored accessory for interior designers aspiring to adopt a minimalistic approach in their projects.
In the last three decades, the economy of China, an erstwhile major exporter of organic cotton grew at a frenetic pace, resulting in a sudden surge in demand within the country. The shortage of homegrown cotton in China, lead to a sharp increase in domestic prices and prompted them to scale up cotton imports.
The rising popularity of the futon concept and high cost of pure cotton fillers has resulted in manufacturers offering a wide range of material alternatives to their clientele.
Listed below are material alternatives that denote the evolution of futon companies over the years:
Organic Cotton Futon:
A cotton plant is known to produce varying lengths of fibers. The lengthiest fibers are sourced from the top portion of the cotton plant and are known to be the purest form of organic cotton.
These fibers are expensive and are specifically used by the medical industry. The sizes of the fibers reduce gradually as you pick the cotton from the lower parts of the plant.
The mid-size fibers are used in the textile industry and the cotton obtained from the lowest part of the plant is used in the furniture industry as fillers for futon mattresses and cushions.
The high cost of cotton prompted futon manufacturers to buy the lowest grades of the organic produce, thereby compromising on both product quality and longevity.
Futon With Polyester-Cotton Blend:
As the prices of organic cotton produce escalated, futon manufacturers implemented a layering process to reduce the cost wherein a cheaper material, polyester, was blended with cotton fibers and used as fillers. Futons with a polyester-cotton blend were lighter, economical, and handled humidity levels better than the pure cotton variant.
However, the increase in demand for the product resulted in a short supply of polyester fibers in the market. The ensuing gap between demand and supply eventually caused a price escalation of polyester fibers and impacted the interests of the futon companies.
Wool Mix Futon:
Post the polyester cost escalation; futon companies experimented with a filling produced from textile rag waste commonly known as the wool mix. This product had a 10% wool component with an amalgamated range of fibers such as nylon, polyester, Lurex, and cotton. The wool mix was almost 1/3rd the cost of organic cotton and was considered to be a cheap alternative.
Subsequently, there was a lot of negative feedback from consumers regarding the substandard quality of wool mix futons. There were numerous issues with durability that deterred manufacturers from using the wool mix in their futons.
The late nineties witnessed a marginal drop in the popularity of futons as a Scandinavian furniture retailer commenced the sale of budget futons at rock-bottom prices. The initial user enthusiasm in these futons quickly dissipated as the quality of the Scandinavian variants was known to be quite inferior as compared to the earlier models produced by other manufacturers. The durability issues of these futons eroded the faith of a loyal client-base and almost pushed the futon industry into a downward spiral.
The Resurgence OF the Futon Industry:
The new millennium witnessed the introduction of technologically advanced methods of constructing futons, turning the tide in favor of the futon industry. A few parameters in the layering of the fillers were tweaked to provide superior comfort to users. Initially, companies incorporated a layer of foam in the center but this input was swiftly swapped with pure wool due to breathability concerns.
Futon manufacturers are also experimenting with layers of coir and rubberized coconut fibers in some parts of the world to provide a firmer base for the mattress.
Currently, organic wool is being extensively used as an outer layer in futon construction instead of poly-cotton in certain parts of Europe, as it significantly enhances air-circulation and breathability.
New-Age Fillers For Futons:
Apart from the pure wool option, two new-age fillers known as rebound polycotton and i-fiber are making waves in the futon market.
What Is Rebound Polycotton?
Rebound polycotton is a sturdy filling developed with an even combination of polyester-cotton fibers that are specifically woven into the construction pattern to add stability and volume to the structure of a futon.
What Is I-Fiber?
I-Fiber is a novel concept wherein the polyester fibers are placed in a vertical manner instead of the standard horizontal pattern. This method of construction is known to provide users with the comfort of a bouncy, long-lasting futon.
The above-mentioned overview denotes all the necessary tips that you need to know about futons to ensure long-term comfort and promote overall wellbeing.