By David Perry This mattress horse is looking to gallop in the United States. Swedish luxury bedding maker Hastens, whose logo features a horse in full stride, is aiming to put more bounce into its U.S. business. The company recently made its first U.S. showing at the October market here, introducing new high-end lines, rolling out a new program for interior designers, and unrolling a welcome mat for U.S. retailers. "We are trying to get the word out," said Janet Stein, country manager for the United States, who introduced the new lines in High Point. Hastens already is well known in mattress circles. The company says, accurately, that its name "is synonymous with luxurious beds." Hastens is famous for its blue-and-white check patterns on its ticking, unique to the company, and its all-natural story. The producer, based in Koping, Sweden, was founded in 1852 and is Sweden's oldest manufacturers of beds and mattresses. The company started out primarily making saddles and carriage furniture, using horsehair. Mattresses were a sideline at first, and the company stuffed them with horsehair, too. As demand for those cushy mattresses grew, the company focused on that business. Hastens ("Hast" is Swedish for horse) now specializes in the use of layers of horsehair in its mattresses. Horsehair, once a common filling material in mattresses, is seldom used these days. But Hastens officials say they continue to make their beds by hand using only natural filling materials, including horsehair, cotton, linen, wool and flax. The company says the beds "are free of all harmful chemicals and other materials that could in any way be detrimental to either the human body or the environment." Hastens adds that the natural materials in its beds maintain ventilation, allowing the mattresses to breathe and thus creating the perfect environment for a restful night of sleep. The beds are pricey: Retails range from $4,850 to a cool $69,750. But Hastens officials say they are worth those prices. "My aim is that Hastens should provide as much benefit for the end user as possible," said Jan Ryde, the owner and CEO of the company. "A good night's sleep gives a better day and in the long run a better life." The company made a stylish debut in High Point, using its trademark high-quality photography and attractively dressed beds to stand out. This wasn't just another mattress showroom. "We are reaching out to the entire country for potential business partnerships," Stein said. "We are also reaching out to the interior design community with our new ID program. We would like to gain a greater presence in the U.S." Hastens currently sells through 15 U.S. stores, including ABC Carpet and Home in New York, and stores in cities including Los Angeles, Dallas, Grand Rapids, Mich., and Madison, Wis. The company's new ID program was created in response to what Hastens says were requests from architects, interior designers and stylists. It entitles members to preferred pricing on Hastens beds at participating retailers. "For decades Hastens has been favored by design professionals looking to integrate both beauty and a beautiful night's sleep into their work," CEO Ryde said. "With the introduction of the Interior Design Program, we hope to show our immense appreciation." Hastens also is introducing three new beds: • The Hastens 2000T II is a three-part sleep set that features six layers of 100% natural cotton and wool and four layers of horsehair. It retails from $23,000 to $27,000. • The Excelsior II features two additional layers of cotton, wool and horsehair, replacing the need for a layer of flax. It retails from $13,000 to $15,000. • The Luxuria, retailing for about $8,000, is a new bed design that features the company's patented spring system, padded by two layers of horsehair and four layers of 100% natural cotton and wool.
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