Photo: Jensen Møbler AS
Individually adjustable double bed
The first Jensen mattress saw the light of day in 1947. Today the company is one of Scandinavia's leading mattress manufacturers exporting to nine markets outside Norway. The industry is highly competitive and has many players that are on relatively equal footing with regard to function, technology and look. Jensen operates in the feather mattress segment in the medium to high price range where the brand's core value is based on "exceptional comfort". In 2004 the company wanted to strengthen its position in the international market, and to start using new innovative methods based on design to separate itself from competitors. A partnership with the Norwegian Design Council was therefore initiated to start a design-driven innovation process. The project was co-financed by the Innovation Furniture Programme which is a partnership programme between Innovation Norway, TBL Møbel and the Norwegian Design Council.
At the start phase open interviews where conducted with key personnel at Jensen centrally and at the sales companies abroad, importers and agents as well as store personnel and consumers in an effort to reveal unsolved user problems. This information was organised as alternative hypotheses which the management at Jensen considered with regard to priorities. Problems linked to adjustable beds were especially prioritised: The current solution is characterised by: Large, voluminous beds that fill the bedroom, hospital bed look, masculine and technical air and that there is no current solution for adjustable double beds in the market. The information was gathered into a conceptual design specification where the ambition to have a new standard with regard to adjustable beds was described.
14 foreign industrial design agencies from the Norwegian Design Council's international network were visited and assessed in order to select 4 agencies that could be engaged to develop 4 alternative conceptual design solutions. The conceptual design specification was presented to 2 agencies from the Netherlands and 2 agencies from the UK, with whom agreements for assignments were entered into. The assignment was to be completed in 9 weeks and the agency that presented the best result would be chosen as the future partner.
Testing and choice of direction
The concept proposals from individual design agencies were presented to the management and key personnel within Jensen's value chain first. The concepts were assessed based on the company's strategy, newsworthiness in the industry and usefulness for the user, degree of difficulty regarding technology, production and materials, financial analysis and risk assessment. The same proposals were then presented to 4 different focus groups comprised of consumers, store personnel from home and abroad, trend researchers and specialists from the external value chain. On completion of this process Jensen decided to start cooperation regarding further development of the final bed concept with the agency from the Netherlands, Industrial Design bv.
Based on the total input from the conceptual phase a final design specification/description of assignment was prepared for the design agency. The design specification was called "6 pack" and comprised of 6 specific rules regarding which values it was desired that the product be based on:
1. Design for user
2. Design for production
3. Design for logistics
4. Design for store
5. Design for branding
6. Design for environment
The specification also comprised a recommended maximum cost of goods for the final solution. A core desire expressed in the specification was to develop a patentable solution that solved all the thus far unsolved problems linked to adjustable beds for those who desired an adjustable double bed. If Jensen were to be the first bed manufacturer to solve these challenges the company would acquire a huge competitive advantage. The concept was based on acquiring "adequate mobility" for good comfort by making possible individual adjustments in a manner that is mechanically rational.
The industrial design agency worked on the actual design process linked to the challenges listed in the "6 pack" description for one year. This included studies of alternative ergonomic, technical, functional and optical solutions through to the development of a principle prototype. From this point onwards Jensen took over the project for the actual prototype development and industrialisation. Design solutions are based on robust technical principles which aim towards rational logistics and production, service-friendly (modules) and long lifespan. Jensen Eden is composed of a specially designed bed module with a newly developed motorised "bump down" module and patented headboard module. The bed can be adjusted in such a way that the middle section can be lowered into the base. The gable is fastened to the head section of the bed frame and the position can be changed from a vertical position to a reclining position if so desired. The bed has an easy look with two bases that slant inwards, the legs give the impression of being a reflection in water and emphasise the light flow. To solidify a strong identity the wireless RF remote control has been given the same design as the base of the bed. There are 9 combination options in terms of textiles, divided into three main themes. Jensen Eden has resulted in investments in machinery and the product development department has been fortified with new competence.
The Eden bed was first launched to the trade in Netherlands in June 2008, and was then launched to the retail markets in England, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway in autumn 2008. The actual results at consumer level will therefore only be apparent in the course of 2009. At the start of 2009 Eden will be available for sale at a total of 175 selected stores, nationally and internationally.
Company: Jensen Møbler AS
Design: NPK design bv
Award / year: Honours Award for Design Excellence - 2009