Among the furniture that furnishes our homes, the bed is the one that probably underwent fewer transformations over time. And if today, for example, it is enough to ask the staff of any mattress store in Milan for detailed information on a bed base or on a mattress base, on various pillows and skirts, very little is known about who invented the bed. So a bit of history in this regard, we think, can come in handy.
The Assyrian king Ashurbanipal apparently used to feast on a bed with support to rest his elbow and feet in the shape of a pine cone: this is what is seen engraved in a seventh-century BC relief.
Even the Romans feasted by lying down, and in the triclinium, the room in which the food was consumed, they spent several hours lying on the trinary bed, like the Greeks for that matter, who loved to eat, drink and abandon themselves in long discussions just in bed.
The use of the bed was certainly no stranger even to the Egyptians, as shown by paintings and artifacts found in the famous tomb of Tutankhamun.
To say exactly who invented the bed is a very difficult undertaking; however, it remains certain that, at least in antiquity, the presence of wood was constant in its construction and its rectangular shape was almost exclusive. If ever over the centuries and with the alternation of cultures to varying the height of the bed, the decorations, the headboard, the legs, and the feet.
The canopy structure is, in fact, typical of the Middle Ages, and even becomes luxurious in the Renaissance, with the addition of shelves and benches.
And if until 1871 the mattresses contained feathers, wool, hay, cotton and sawdust, as well as algae and horsehair, starting from the last thirty years of the nineteenth century the story changed, thanks to Heinrich Westphal, who gave birth to the first prototype of a spring mattress. Zalmon G. Simmons then had the opportunity to monetize the idea of Westphal by founding the Simmons Bedding Company, the first real big company that dealt with the production of mattresses.
Also in the nineteenth century, Sir James Paget created the first water mattress, while in the twentieth century, precisely in 1928, John Boyd Dunlop, the founder of the tire company of the same name, launched the latex mattress.
In 1966, NASA had the intuition of memory foam mattresses, a polyurethane-based foam to which are added special substances that alter its density. And a few years later, stave systems also began to spread.
So who invented the bed? Hard to say. Instead, it is easy to admit that it cannot be done without for centuries now.