We Germans have neglected our bedroom for a long time. At last we end up furnishing it in a cosier way. For example with boxspring beds.

By Olga Scheer

Published in Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, August, 21, 2016, GELD & MEHR, page 36

Actually the Germans are a peculiar people: Attaching so little importance to our bedroom for such a long time! Despite the fact that we do not spend as much time in any other room as in the one letting us calm down. As an average, every German sleeps for 7 hours and 45 minutes, which means that he spends a third of each day in bed. Among top managers the number of hours of lacked sleep used to symbolize performance readiness for a a long time. This is a daring point of view. Most people cannot do with less than seven hours, states Carolin Schäfer, neurologist and sleep researcher at the Berlin Charité. Just like eating, sleeping counts among the basic needs of the human being. Getting too little of them is detrimental.

Consequently, apart from nutrition and fitness the next major lifestyle issue seems to be sleep. And currently the attitude towards the domestic bedroom changes in this country. Many have fussed with the rest of the residence before. Sofa and loveseat combinations dominate livingrooms in the meantime, having replaced uncomfortable furniture since long ago. Also, dining areas have changed as time went by. Initially, dining tables conquered eat-in kitchens, then the kitchen was integrated into the living area. Now, the most private of all rooms picks up on changing. "People want to refurnish their bedroom, too, to make it cosier", says Ursula Geisman, representative of the German Furniture Industry Association.

By taking a look at the catalogues of the furniture industry, it gets clear quite swiftly what the trend is leading up to. Some years ago, the so-called boxspring beds were only known from American luxury hotels. They appear imposing and comfortable, consist of an abundance of upholstery and feature a convenient access height as well as a tall headboard to be leaned against just like against a sofa. Meanwhile they are increasingly to be found in German bedrooms, too.

Boxspring beds are trendy

This year, a million boxspring beds are likely to be sold. Compared to 2013, the turnover would thereby quadruplicate. Nearly every sixth newly bought mattress relates to the boxspring model. According to an estimate by the German Furniture Industry Association the boxspring beds turnover will amount to 1.5 billion Euros, representing a third of the entire beds turnover, with an upward trend.

But what kind of bed is this particular type preferred by ever more Germans for resting? Boxspring means as much as "box with springs“ and designates the special bases of the beds. A boxspring bed’s mattress is not put on a slatted frame but on a spring-mounted base mattress which works like an antishock pad. Anyone looking around in furniture stores will not be able to escape the new bed trend. Even the furniture store Ikea, market leader in the segment of low-priced bedframes, has started to market boxspring style beds. Available for 528 Euros or more. However, they do not have the classic base but a slatted frame. A true boxspring bed is sold in furniture stores for at least 1,000 Euros. Apart from German manufacturers you will also find many foreign brands such as Hilding Anders, Hästens and Treca. For a boxspring bed of superior quality you should consider paying at least 2,000 Euros, says Jürgen Weyrich from the Consumer Research Society.

The bed as a retreat

Originally, boxspring beds were made in the Scandinavian area. However, there was a manufacturer of dual mattress systems in Germany quite early. Karl Schramm, saddler and upholsterer, was used to patting horsebacks before making a saddle. This helped him to determine the final shape of the saddle. He applied the same principle for the making of a mattress. In 1923, he founded a saddlery and upholstery in Palatine Alsenborn. The emanating business has been family-run for three generations now. Currently it ranks 11th of the top luxury companies in Germany. The Palatine manufacturer, however, does not regard his beds as pure luxury products. 4300 beds and just as many mattresses have been made at Schramm Werkstätten during the past business year, creating a turnover of almost 30 million Euros. A good third of the products are exported abroad.

Until today, the top pocket spring mattress is handmade. The staff of Schramm Werkstätten sew the steel springs individually into small cotton pockets which are lined up along the mattress‘ length. Stronger springs are used for the pelvic area while slightly softer springs are located in the shoulder area. A few work stations down the line, the pocket spring core is padded with numerous layers of cotton, new wool, natural latex silk and linen before the composition is sewn into a finished mattress. The making of the spring-mounted base mattress involves a comparable amount of handcraft, too. The top mattress of a boxspring system is adapted to the customer’s dimensions whereas the base mattress cushions the movements, thereby providing for an optimized body adaptation, says Angela Schramm, wife of the founder’s grandson and CEO Axel Schramm. With a slatted frame system, the adaptation is performed indirectly by the slatted frame. “People contacting us today are much more interested in the issue of sleep”, says Angela Schramm. “To them, the bed represents a retreat allowing them to switch off their cell phone and to shut out the world for a moment. They approach us because they would like to sleep well."

An expensive bed alone will not do for good sleep

And that entails expenses. A double bed by Schramm which is 1.80 metres wide is available for 4,800.00 Euros or more. According to desired specification this price may rise to up to 50,000.00 Euros. The luxury model, the "Grand Cru", even boasts two pocket spring mattresses on top of the base mattress. "If you consider the time spent in bed the quality shouldn’t suffer", says Angela Schramm. "And that has its price." When buying a car, customers would not hesitate at all to pay surcharges for leather covers and seat heating. Hardly anyone sits as long in his car as he rests in his bed.

Schramm Werkstätten also offer a hotel range. The rooms of Elmau Castle, which hosted the G-7 summit last year, is entirely equipped with Schramm beds, for example. However, Angela Schramm has to make up quite an easy calculation for hotel customers, as well. Based on a mattress durability of 10 years hotel managers have to pay 1.28 Euros per night for a mattress. However, they are ready to spend more than that for a small bottle of shower gel. Regardless of the fact that most guests book a hotel for spending the night - and not for only washing themselves.

It has not been proven that sleeping in boxspring beds is better from a scientific point of view. According to the researchers it is of foremost importance to calm down and to relax before going to bed. The experiences made during the day will then be processed by dreaming. This is very important to be able to regain new energy, says sleep researcher Carolin Schäfer. You should also switch off your cell phone during the night.

An expensive new bed therefore won’t do to ensure better sleep. Angela Schramm is well aware of this fact, she refrains from promising miracles: "It happens quite often that people approach us who suffer from sleep problems which are due to psychological propblems. Although we can sell these customers a good bed, we are not able to cure the cause."

However, the workshops manage to satisfy other almost unlimited wishes even if they may be extravagant. The mayor of Schanghai for example sleeps in a brightly pink-coloured Schramm bed. Germans rather tend to stick to their preferred unostentatious grey and blue hues, reports Angela Schramm. But maybe this will also change as time goes by.

© All rights reserved. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung GmbH, Frankfurt. Supplied by Frankfurter Allgemeine Archive

Published in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, 21.08.2016, GELD & MEHR (Money and more), page 36, Olga Scheer