Recently Vietcetera explored the fact that many of the millennial generation endures sleep issues. While touching on the need for us to invest more consciously in the quality of their sleep, we detailed how the Vispring brand has been building a better night’s sleep for over a century. There we went into the technology and the materials that have seen the company become an eminent global name in the bed-making industry. But what of the origin story? Even the biggest companies come from simple beginnings, and Vispring is no different.
Born Out Of Necessity
Though the company was founded in 1901, Vispring’s seminal moment arrived two years prior with the invention of the pocket sprung mattress. The technology was dreamed up and realized by the British engineer James Marshall in a last ditch bid to help his bed-bound wife feel more comfortable. Whereas traditional mattresses are made with a network of interlinked and codependent springs inside, Marshall’s vision was for each spring to act according to the weight distribution and body contours of the user. In essence, a more responsive and comfortable place to lie down.
Marshall took to the task alone, making his wife a new bed by hand with each of the hundreds of coils wrapped in its own musling pocket. His invention was such a hit with its first user that Marshall decided to take things further, soon founding the Marshall Sanitary Mattress Company.
Lift Off In The UK
Two Englishmen businessmen, John Nolon and Frederick James, were impressed by Marshall’s innovation and became agents of the company in an attempt to bring it to the attention of the British public. They weren’t able to convince manufacturers on the home front that this more specialized, and the less mass-producible mattress was the way forward, however. The pair remained determined and decided to produce Marshall mattresses themselves in Britain, having acquired Marshall’s patent. Thus, the company was officially incorporated in the UK in 1901. The name would remain until the early 1930s, when they decided to rebrand it as VI-Spring – a play on the Roman numeral for six, VI, to indicate the six turns in every coil spring they use.
The company’s first big break came in 1911, when Vispring beds and mattresses were chosen to furnish some of the world’s grandest ocean liners – first-class cabins onboard ships like The Titanic, and her sisters The Olympic and The Britannic all contained Virspring products.
Over the years, Vispring continued to explore more luxurious ways of improving their mattresses, using materials like horsehair, 100% cotton, shetland wool in their fillings, and even finishing their mattresses with the likes of silk and cashmere. In 1932, the company reached another milestone by creating the world’s first pocket sprung divan. Built to be the ideal base for a Vispring mattress, the divan is hand upholstered using vanadium pocket springs in a timber frame, then finished with fine natural materials such as horsehair, cotton, and wool.
New Home, Same Mission
After decades of growth all driven by the simple principle of making a superior night’s sleep possible, Vispring elected to move out of London in 1971 and relocate to the southern port city of Plymouth, where the skilled local workforce has proven immensely beneficial.
Despite growing its distribution channels to over 50 countries around the world, from London to Paris, Sydney to Ho Chi Minh City, and winning multiple prestigious awards including Bed of The Year at the Bed Industry Awards, the company has remained loyal to its community.
Even today, each and every Vispring product, no matter where on the earth it’s located, was hand-made by one of two hundred local craftsmen on the south coast of England.