American futons, originally borrowed from the Japanese, began to appear in
bohemian crash pads in the late 1960s. Students of Asian culture made futon
mats by hand for friends because they were cheap and saved space. In the '70s
and '80s, Boston designer and creative wood craftsman William Brouwer began
to experiment with the futon and developed the first convertible futon frame.
Futon frames and futon mattresses have since grown up. Convertible futon frames
are now stylish and functional pieces of furniture for both sitting and sleeping.
No longer just floppy quilts, today's futon mattress has grown thicker and more
comfortable and has all the bells and whistles of conventional mattresses. What
was once a small, burgeoning demand for these idiosyncratic furnishings has
grown into a multi-billion dollar market.
The futon’s raison de etre is its space-saving design. The re-invented
A-frame employed in most futon frames enables the furnishing to be used as seating,
much like a sofa, or pulled-out and laid flat for sleeping. The futon bed is
still extremely popular with the young and space-constrained, but is now also
found in spare bedrooms and casual rooms of the older and more affluent..
Styles for futon furniture range from traditional to contemporary, from inexpensive
gauges of steel and iron, to more expensive and elaborate woods and wood solids.
Mission styles are extremely popular, as are sleek contemporary futon beds.
Futon mattresses are typically made from layered polyester, cotton, and convoluted
foam, but more expensive and supportive futon mattresses can have innersprings
and even latex or memory foam. Adding an expressive, or rich futon cover over
a futon mattress with pillows for accents, can turn the casual furnishing into
a conversation piece.
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