As you all know by now, I live in Devon and I really enjoy showcasing companies that are local to me. Back in July, I was invited to Topsham, just outside Exeter, to visit a company called Naturalmat that manufactures organic mattresses and bedding. It wasn’t the first time that I had heard about the company as I have previously written an article about them for Devon Home magazine (you can read it here). But it has been a few years since I’d heard from them and I was keen to find out what had been going on since we last spoke. What was really exciting though was the fact that I was invited not only to see the showroom, but also to have a tour of the factory where I could see the organic mattresses actually being made. This is something I love. I mean it’s one thing to see and experience a product, but I don’t think you can truly appreciate it until you understand how it’s made, especially if it is something that is made by hand. So needless to say I didn’t have to do much thinking before I accepted the invitation and headed off to Topsham. The fact that there were pastries being served for breakfast didn’t swing it for me at all, I promise!
So when we arrived at the showroom, we were greeted by Peter Tindall and Mark Tremlett who founded Naturalmat in 2000. The company started out producing mattresses for boats as Peter and Mark were both keen sailors and were unhappy with the offering of the marine market. In their quest for the perfect marine sleeping environment, they decided the best option was to make their own mattresses using natural materials. The company branched out into making mattresses for babies when Mark was expecting first child and had a similar experience. And now they make a whole range of organic mattresses for all the family and have even entered the hotel game. This happened when Simon Woodroffe of Yo! Sushi fame bought a mattress for his Thames houseboat and was so impressed that he asked Naturalmat to help design the convertible beds for his unique cabin hotel business, YOTEL. Since then, Naturalmat have worked with a number of other hotel brands both here in the UK and abroad and this is now the biggest part of the business.
But what makes Naturalmat so special? Well, according to Mark and Peter, it’s the quality of the natural materials that they use in their organic mattresses. Synthetic materials such as Polyurethane foam absorb heat and moisture which is something you really don’t want in your sleeping environment. So by using natural products they are able to avoid this. Instead of using Polyurethane foam they use natural latex which is breathable and therefore provides ventilation. It is also sustainable, hypoallergenic and is very springy.
The coconut fibre (coir) they use comes from the only organic certified coconut plantation and this helps to give the mattresses a natural spring.
The wool used in the mattresses is bought direct from local farmers and that means that the organic status can be maintained all the way through the manufacturing process. Wool is a great material for fielding moisture and dispensing it and it is a great natural insulator. It is great for keeping you cool in warmer temperatures and warm when temperatures drop.
The cotton that is used to cover the mattresses is natural, unbleached and undyed. It does have some natural extracts added to it such as lavender, lemon and eucalyptus which are great for aiding restful sleep and fending off moths and bedbugs.
Other natural materials used in the organic mattresses include recycled denim, horse hair, cashmere and bamboo.
But they don’t just make mattresses anymore. After a while they started to make bed bases from FSC certified timber using traditional joinery methods, screws and organic glues. They can even make bespoke bed bases, which is great news for anyone who is exceptionally tall. Not long after they branched into headboards and next came bedding such as feather and organic wool duvets. The cotton bedding they supply is even certified by The Soil Association.
Not too long ago, Naturalmat expanded its business yet again when it bought The Cornish Bed Company and took over the manufacture of the traditional Victorian style metal beds.
Whilst looking round the factory I was surprised to learn just how much of the manufacturing process is done by hand. In fact, there was very little machinery involved at all. It was really lovely to watch the craftsmen and women at work producing all the different components that make up the products that they supply and sell. When buying something as important as a mattress it’s nice to know that expert makers with skilled hands are working on your product to ensure that it meets the highest standards.
So what’s next for Naturalmat? Well, being the environmentally conscious company that they are (they generate all their own electricity from solar panels at the factory so they have a really low carbon footprint) they now have plans to improve the lifespan of their mattresses. People will soon be able to return their mattresses to Naturalmat once they have worn out and Naturalmat will make a new product from it, such as a luxury dog bed. Alternatively, it can be renewed for a fee, which makes the high initial outlay all the more worthwhile and will effectively double the lifespan of the mattress.
If you’re not based in Devon like me and can’t get to the Topsham showroom, don’t worry. Since 2004, there has also been a showroom in Nottinghill and there are plans to open another in Hammersmith. I really enjoyed my tour of the Naturalmat showroom and factory and I really do love hearing all about the production processes and all the materials that go into making these extraordinary products. As I’ve said many times before, I don’t think you can truly appreciate the value of a product unless you know the story behind it. I’ll leave you with this little video clip in which Mark and Peter explain a little bit about the manufacture of Naturalmat mattresses.