The following post is brought to you by Leesa. Our partners are handpicked by the Design Milk team because they represent the best in design.
Mattress shopping can be one of the most trying parts of setting up a home. It’s hard to get a sense of landscape, and the price of a good night’s sleep can easily spiral out of control. (And wouldn’t you rather be spending that decorating budget on things like pink sofas? We would!) Excessive spending in the hopes of buying a good sleep is not a 21st century phenomenon. After all, considering we spend more than one third of our lives in bed, it’s perhaps no surprise that we humans have always been preoccupied with where to lay our heads. The bed was so significant to Western European home life that for thousands of years, it was the most important and most expensive piece of furniture a family owned. That expense meant that more than any other item, the bed was the status symbol of the house. And while there is nothing more luxurious than a good night’s sleep, Leesa Sleep is one of the companies hoping to make sleep affordable with new design, manufacturing and shipping technology.
The company started with a basic question: “How is it possible to manufacture a luxury mattress for under $1,000?” Here at Design Milk, we already tried out the mattress, and can attest to its comfort. But since we were also impressed with how good the mattress looked, we spoke to Leesa Head of Design, Mitch Murphy, to get a few more detail on just how the mattress came into being. In fact, the design piece was so critically interwoven into the core of the company that Mitch was there on day one as a founding team member. He is responsible for the both the design of the brand, as well as, the unique design of the Leesa mattress.
For Mitch, the design process was not confined to the mattress experience, he wanted every part of the customer experience to reflect the core values of Leesa. When it came to designing the mattress, like most products, the process was iterative. It took 30-40 prototypes before the team settled on the final version. There were two components to the mattress design. There was the technology on the inside and then the outside. Inside, they use the highest and most durable foams available in the marketplace that allows it to compress small enough to be packed inside a box. “The design question was how to wrap this perfect mattress in something that could really connect with customers on an emotional level,” Mitch explained
Even the shipping/receiving experience was a designed process. “We knew that the out-of-box moment was super important,” said Mitch. “It’s like a handshake, a first impression, so we went through a lot of iterations—size of box, handle placement.” Every aspect of receiving the mattress was up for discussion and debate. Even the way the mattress was wrapped. “We didn’t want people cutting it and putting holes in the mattress. Now you just pull the sticker and it unrolls on its own,” said Mitch.
The biggest design constraint of a mattress was simply how to make what was technically a large rectangle feel like as thoughtfully designed on the outside as it was on the inside. Most mattresses are usually made of three panels—a top, bottom and three sides—that are all stitched together. But Mitch wanted to create a seamless cover and not just for aesthetics. “A lot of those seams can create weak points or you can get uncomfortable piping around the edge,” he explained. A seamless mattress created some real design potential—now the pattern could be wrapped around the entire mattress.
When it came to color, most of the experimentation was done at a computer. When it came time to translate the final computer design into a textile reality, Mitch sat at the mill and hand picked each of the different thread colors that when woven together would produce the final heather gray.
All mattresses have some sort of tufting to keep the cover from sliding around on the mattress body, but Mitch wanted something a little different from the traditional button tufting. The resulting diagonal tufting makes the cover look a bit more like a blanket while still fulfilling the tufting requirements of the mattress.
While working on the design, Mitch kept thinking back to early days as a interaction designer for Ziba Design, and then later on at frog design, and anytime there was a project underway, the team would be asked “What’s the metaphor?” Understanding that that metaphor can help evoke a deeper connection between product and consumer, Mitch had two inspiration sources for the mattress cover. The first was the boyish charm and understated elegance of Audrey Hepburn. “She redefined what it meant to be a movie star in a world full of Marilyn Monroes,” explained Mitch. The second inspiration source was the idea of cuddling up with a warm blanket on a cold night. “The goal was to make something so beautiful that someone doesn’t want to cover it up,” said Mitch.
“Design is such a powerful tool,” said Mitch. “It’s not just aesthetics and the way something looks. We’ve gotten to a point where design transforms business, it is a key driver for success. Design has to focus on people and understanding their needs, and then giving them something that solves those needs – even if they don’t know it yet.” And a mattress that helps you gets some shut eye, while looking great and also leaving some money in the bank for that pink sofa? In our book, that’s a problem solver.
Leesa is offering Design Milk readers a special $75 off offer code and free shipping—use code DESIGN75. An added bonus? For every 10 mattresses they sell, Leesa donates one mattress to homeless shelters so that someone in need can also get a good night’s sleep. A life-changing mattress delivered free to your door and has a mission to do good? The only hard part is figuring out what size, or how many…