Water beds are due a comeback! Or they are according to inventor, Charles Hall. And why? “Because a millenial has never seen one!” he claims.
If you’re a child of the ’70s or ’80s then you probably know what it’s like to sleep on one of these curious creations. The novelty and comfort of lying on a bubble of water was a pull for people of the day, with waterbed sales accounting for 15% of the mattress market in 1986.
In today’s mattress market, waterbeds only take up a slither in comparison, with only a 5% share of the market. However, fifty years since they hit stores and bedrooms everywhere, the man behind the invention is looking to put them back in the spotlight. Let’s take a brief look at how these things came to be.
Charles Hall was at design school in 1968 when he came up with the idea for his Master’s thesis. He wanted to find a way to improve human comfort whilst sleeping, something we spend on average one third of our lives doing. With such a large chunk of our time taken in the sack, it is important that we spend it in as much comfort as possible.
As such, Hall contacted doctors and physical therapists to get some ideas on how to do it. Charles must have known that his invention would be successful, because he also went ahead and patented the idea.
“In each house I have a water bed,” he said. “And you know what? I wouldn’t sleep on anything else. They are the most comfortable bed around.” And what was the original name of the waterbed? Well, it was advertised under the more attractive and alliterative name ‘The Pleasure Pit.’ That’s right, you heard me correctly…the waterbed was once called The Pleasure Pit.
The invention was an immediate hit with Hall’s friends, and so he pitched it to the nation’s big mattress manufacturers. Hall had no luck with them, and therefore decided he would take on the task himself and produce them on his own. “We made ’em and sold ’em and delivered ’em,” he says.
Their popularity slowly began to grown and eventually his company, Innerspace Environments, operated 32 retail stored in California. But it was a tough way to make money, with many patent infringements and copycat products. “The public didn’t know what to look for. A $29 bag of water is not the same thing as a $500 bed with a frame, a safety liner and a heater,” he says.
So why does Hall think that now is a time for these ’80s hits to make a resurgence?
Hall blames the way that waterbeds were used as the butt of jokes by comedians and the risk of bursting and flooding as a reason for their downfall. But now, he says, “time has passed people can appreciate the comfort and benefits of a waterbed without the bias we had against the fad.”
His company are going to be releasing new and improved models this year. The beds will feature improved temperature control, design changes to stop uncomfortable “waves,” and don’t need a bulky wooden frame.
But Hall also has another, more ‘out there’ idea on why he thinks 2018 is the year of the waterbed. He told the Seattle times, “But I have this theory that it’s a Northwest kind of thing. I feel like a lot of us spawned in a waterbed.”
“And so those younger types, maybe they want to visit the spawning ground.”