Autumn Newsletter Memory of the Month: Tales of a Futoneer
The Futon Expert likes to give a bit of historical reference so that’s an aim of this Autumn Newsletter. Here in the UK during the late 1960’s and early 70’s there was a trend for sculptured foam furniture. These adaptable pieces of upholstered foam were different shapes and sizes and could be connected to form all sorts of seating arrangements suitable for different areas in the home.
The concept passed into oblivion, but many of those shops turned into futon stores. As an importer/distributor in those long gone days I got to know some of the people involved and was impressed by how they were using their shops to make futon mattresses in their basements and back rooms. Futon demand was growing and by the end of the ’70’s another skill set evolved and ended up creating more sophisticated wooden futon frames made from a variety of timbers including Oak, Birch and Beech. Image below.
Scandinavia and Canada had mastered “steam bending” Beech wood, so arms on frames were giving a glimpse of the style and elegance to come in the following decade. At this point there was a mood across Europe and North America for 3 seat futon frames. In the space of about 15 years “futons” had transitioned from a homemade bed and part time sofa into a trendy sofa bed that found a foothold worldwide, from Riga in Latvia to Perth Australia.
Like most products that start as a great idea and end in the mainstream. the journey is usually full of compromises. However steady improvements were the order of the day but global demand at a time when China was mass producing steel, brought about the 3 seat metal futon frame, image below. The unit price fell but so did people’s expectations. The Autumn Newsletter helps to explain the value that was easy to see for so long suddenly evaporated, if Argos or Ikea dominate the market, quality suffers and the futon “industry” was no different. A metal 3 seat futon frame with a skinny futon mattress is light years away from the crafted, unique comfy sofa bed that was the original idea.
Over the course of the past 4 decades or so the futon world has risen from obscurity to become part of the furniture mainstream. The situation today as explained in the Autumn Newsletter is that the negative fall out after the Banking Crisis 9 years ago put a brake on demand. Going back 12 -15 years my business used to import worldwide and supply at least 10 independent futon stores in North London alone. The multiple chain stores all ran futon lines but the massive shake out has left just one independent store in that massive area.
Autumn Newsletter: Sleep Benefits
The diverse stresses of daily life can cause reactions which in turn have a direct impact on our ability to relax and get the sleep that our body needs to revive and restore itself into some sort of equilibrium.
Busy lifestyle, financial concerns, work issues or family stresses all cause our sleep patterns to become disturbed. Fractured sleep can lead to constant tiredness, lack of concentration and onset of depression. Recent research shows that our health can be deeply affected by a lack of quality sleep, leading to long term physical problems and draining the joy from life. I think it’s fair to say we all spend time lying awake mentally creating to-do lists, rehashing disagreements or trying to find ways to resolve work problems, the answer may be in teaching yourself a simple relaxation technique.
Lets face it, it’s a challenge at any age learning and developing techniques that will help you let go of anxiety and focus on calm, restful thoughts. But if we try there will be benefits that will help and hopefully become an important part of making sure your sleep is good quality and restorative, preparing you for the next day. The practice of mindful meditation teaches a routine of calming the mind by focusing on the moment and being fully present in that space and time. The essential core sensation encourages relaxation by encompassing everything in that moment, free from the distractions of past and present.
The way to start is concentrate on breathing and recognise the sounds and sensations around those breaths. By focusing fully on awareness of self at the time, you will find a way to block other anxieties, and with repetition they will slowly recede. Twenty minutes of mindful meditation a day can help alleviate insomnia, fatigue, depression and pain symptoms. Practicing the technique creates a calming relaxation reflex that can then be tapped into at night when those pressures we mentioned earlier keep us awake. To get started with mindful meditation, try these simple rules:-
* Try the technique away from your bed. It’s important this form of relaxation doesn’t become associated with your insomnia before it can be used to combat it, so learn the habit at another quiet point of your day.
* When meditating, explore the experience of being in your body as it lives in the world. Allow your mind to hear, feel and fully sense your surroundings, gradually build a sequence of events.
* It’s important to do the meditation while sitting up and so avoid accidentally falling asleep and losing the moment.
* If you find you become distracted, gently pull your mind back to the meditation. Be patient with yourself, it’s not any kind of ‘failure’ but learning about your mind and emotions.
* A gentle repeated noise such as “omm” or hum may help you to concentrate on your meditation.
Mindful meditation reportedly assists people in feeling a better sense of mental well being and can be used to clear the mind of worries at night time. If you find yourself awake at night, try putting your newly learned ‘relaxation technique’ into action.
The Newsletter that Tries NOT to be as DRY as DUST