6 benefits of a good night's sleep

Hastens luxury bed and Herbarium bed linen | Design Hunter

Like many people I have a wish list of those ultimate investment purchases and luxury items that I would one day love to have in my home if money were no object. When it comes to the bedroom, then along with a walk in wardrobe, a Hästens bed comes top of that list.

A little while ago I vsited their Chelsea showroom where I was lucky enough to try out a wide range of their beds. Although you can perhaps only fully judge a mattress by sleeping on it, this brief taster alone was enough to induce something of a Princess and the Pea moment in me when I returned home that evening and slumped into my own (perfectly adequate but considerably less luxurious) bed.

Let's make no pretence about it, this is an aspirational product. You could probably pick up a decent car for the price of the beds at the upper end of the Hästens range, the pinnacle of which is the Vividus - a contender for the title of 'world's most luxurious bed'?

So what do you get in return for splashing out such an eye watering sum of money in search of the perfect night's sleep?

Hastens Swedish handcrafted luxury beds | Design Hunter

Well firstly, every Hästens bed is crafted by hand and tailored to the individual from firm to soft. As Sweden's oldest bed manufacturer - the company was established in 1852 so they have now been making beds for over 160 years - Hästens has a long and distinguished heritage that can draw upon five generations experience of product development and hand craftsmanship. Multiple layers of breathable natural materials - cotton, wool, flax and horsehair - provide the ultimate in comfort and luxury to help you fall asleep easily and then sleep deeply at the right temperature. Their beds are supremely comfortable.

Secondly, achieving a good night's sleep is one of the simplest and yet most impactful ways in which we can improve our quality of life. Although I'm lucky enough to be able to sleep through practically anything most of the time, I do know from experience just how debilitating insomnia or just a lack of adequate sleep can be, and so sleep is something I've learned to prioritise as I've got older in order to take better care of myself.

luxury beds made in Sweden by Hästens | Design Hunter

According to Hästens, here are 6 of the most important reasons why it's important to get a good night's sleep:

1. You live longer and get healthier

Our immune defenses suffer, stress hormones multiply and we find it hard to concentrate when we lose out on essential hours of sleep.

2. You learn quicker

Improving the quality of your sleep is a simple natural way of also improving your ability to learn. When we sleep we go through different stages of sleep. Deep sleep and REM sleep - also known as dream sleep - are important in terms of our ability to learn. During deep sleep our knowledge is cemented and our impressions are enhanced, allowing us to remember what we have learned for longer.

3. You perform better

When it comes to athletic performance, researchers have found that athletes who slept at least 10 hours a night for a longer period of time improved their results. First because they are consolidating their newly learned skills and secondly, researchers believe that growth hormone is released while sleeping. The hormone stimulates muscle growth, bone building and helps athletes recover.

4. You wake up refreshed and energised

When you sleep, essential processes take place within your body, carrying out intensive repair and rebuilding work. The more stress and demands you place on your body and mind during the day, the more important the night's sleep is for recovery.

5. You find it easier to keep a healthy weight

Lack of sleep can affect the metabolism and eating habits. A sleepless night lowers the body's consumption of energy, and at the same time we store more energy than normal and the production of the obesity hormone ghrelin increases. What's more, the blood flow increases in the parts of the brain that influence how we relate to food. When you don't get proper sleep fattening foods seem to stimulate stronger responses in a part of the brain that governs the motivation to eat.

6. You look younger

The concept of beauty sleep is well known. Aim to get at least 8 hours to avoid red and puffy eyes.  Our bodies agitate a human growth hormone as we sleep. This hormone is crucial for the body's collagen production. When we are tired, blood doesn't flow efficiently, making your face swollen and puffy.

Herbarium bed linen by Gunilla Lagerhem Ullberg

Herbarium bed linen by Gunilla Lagerhem Ullberg

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While I dream of owning a Hästens bed there is always the accessories range to enjoy. The brand recently launched their elegant floral Herbarium range of bed linen - the result of a collaboration with Swedish Elle's Designer of the Year Gunilla Lagerhem Ullberg, and there are also pyjamas and robes in the distinctive Hästens blue and white check.

If you can't get to one of their showrooms the website also handily has a list of hotels where  you can enjoy a night's sleep in a Hästens bed!

This post was written in collaboration with Hästens.

5 minutes with... Sophie Ashby

Plimsoll Building by Studio Ashby | Design Hunter
5 minutes with Sophie Ashby | Design Hunter

I'm always intrigued to quiz designers about the inspirations behind their work, but I really can't argue with the design heroes chosen by Sophie Ashby in today's '5 minutes with...' interview, which is perhaps unsurprising as Sophie is a designer I've previously featured on Design Hunter and whose work I really admire..

Having established her Notting Hill studio a year ago, just down the road from her Portobello home, she is already being recognised for her distinctive aesthetic. Drawing on her love of antiques, colour, contemporary 'world art', modernist furniture and her latest discoveries Sophie delivers an eclectic richness to the interiors she creates. Her South African heritage also comes into play, giving her projects a subtle ethnic edge.

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Which three words best describe your work?

Eclectic. Authentic. Playful.

Who or what inspires you?

I have an army of design heroes who I believe do what they do perfectly and gracefully: Joseph Dirand, Jonathan Reed, Jacques Granges, Rose Uniacke to name a few. I look to fashion quite a bit too. I think Phoebe Philo (Creative Director of Céline) is a powerhouse of creativity and originality. Swedish brand Acne Studios is in a league of its own for that archetypal flavour of newness and minimalist cool.

Without sounding too cliché, being in the presence of big, overwhelming nature inspires me. I recently went to Botswana and was in awe of the scale of everything - the size of the sky, the depth of the horizon. It makes you feel like anything is possible.

But mostly, my mother. She is always the strong voice in my head. I think feeling inspired starts with feeling confident and she has always given me the strength to have conviction in my decisions. Her catchphrase is 'you go girl'.

Plimsoll Building by Studio Ashby | Design Hunter

What is your most treasured object in your own home?

I don't have it yet. It's going to be a Pierre Jeanneret chair - one day.

Where's your favourite place to be?

Top three: at home with my boyfriend Charlie, pottering.

Second: in the African bush, on the Okovango Delta searching for elephants.

Third: goofing around with my sister Rose, hopefully dancing, probably eating.

Plimsoll Building by Studio Ashby | Design Hunter

What would you be if you weren't a designer?

I would have a shop of all my favourite things. All I have ever wanted is my own cash register.

What are you reading right now?

I just read this little essay by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie called We Should All be Feminists which I loved. It was so honest and she has a wonderful tone of voice. Since I started my own business most of the books I have been reading are in the 'girl power' category!

Which words of wisdom to you try to live by?

I feel very lucky in everything and everyone that I have... so something along the lines of 'enjoy it all, be happy, don't sweat the small stuff and follow your dreams.

Plimsoll Building by Studio Ashby | Design Hunter

All images from one of Sophie's recently completed projects - the Plimsoll Building Apartments in Kings Cross.



The best of Milan 2015 by Ruth Aram

The best of Milan Design Week 2015 | Design Hunter

It is such a pleasure to have Ruth Aram join us here on Design Hunter today to share some of her Milan highlights. As head of the retail side of the Aram Store Ruth has been visiting Milan every year since the early 1990s, heading to the Salone del Mobile to survey new talent and source products for the showroom.

 Under her father Zeev’s direction, Aram was the first furniture store in Britain to exhibit the work of modernist designers such as Le Corbusier, Marcel Breuer, Carlo Scarpa and Eileen Gray. As well as being a trained landscape architect, Ruth has developed her own personal eye for product design, and before becoming Director at Aram Designs she opened her own showroom in Hampstead, known as The Ruth Aram Store.

In this special guest post for Design Hunter she picks out some of the designs that caught her eye in Milan earlier this month.

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Signature chair by Frits Henningsen for Carl Hansen

Signature chair by Frits Henningsen for Carl Hansen

This year saw a number of re-editions of archive designs such as the Signature Chair by Frits Henningsen for Carl Hansen & Son. Henningsen's final design, completed in 1954 combines comfort and elegance in the form of soft inviting shapes and floating armrests. Back then fewer than 20 pieces were produced, probably all destined for Danish homes, so this is the first time it has been launched internationally.

Kurage lamp by Nendo for Foscarini | Design Hunter

Kurage lamp by Nendo

The success of manufacturers like Carl Hansen & Son demonstrates our yearning for traditional craftsmanship and designs that tell a story, especially in a world increasingly dominated by complicated technology. The hand-crafted theme runs through a number of new products such as Nendo's charming Kurage table lamp designed for Foscarini made from washi paper and wood.

Saen dining table by Gabriele and Oscar Buratti for Alias | Design Hunter

Saen dining table by Gabriele and Oscar Buratti

The trend for curving organic shapes continues, illustrated this year by new designs such as the Saen dining table by Gabriele and Oscar Buratti for Alias. The gourd shaped base is made from hollow concrete, an increasingly popular finish which brings an industrial, urban edge to the design.

Fri chair by Jaime Hayon for Fritz Hansen | Design Hunter

Fri chair by Jaime Hayon

Following on from the success of the Ro easy chair comes another curvaceous chair by Jaime Hayon for Fritz Hansen. Lower and softer than the Ro chair, the new Fri chair will have a broader appeal.

Kinesit chair by Arper | Design Hunter

Kinesit chair by Lievore Altherr Molina

As more of us are choosing to work from home, the industry is responding with new task chairs, ergonomically designed yet unfussy and visually light. A good example is the Kinesit chair by Lievore Altherr Molina for Arper. Clean lines are achieved by hiding the height and tilt controls under the seat and fresh colour combinations make it an attractive choice for the home office.

Scighera sofa by Piero Lissoni for Cassina | Design Hunter

Scighera sofa by Piero Lissoni for Cassina

A comfortable, well designed sofa is often the starting point when updating the home and this year there were a number to choose from but my favourite was the Scighera by Piero Lissoni for Cassina. This is a sofa to sink into and relax with generously sized armrests and a foldable headrest that can be fixed in different positions, ensuring a high level of comfort.

Pilot chair by Barber Osgerby for Knoll | Design Hunter

Pilot chair by Barber & Osgerby

I was initially unsure about the Pilot chair by Barber & Osgerby for Knoll International, especially the models with multi-coloured upholstery, but the comfort and functionality is excellent and when upholstered in leather it is a handsome design.

Bertoia side chair | Design Hunter

Bertoia side chair by Harry Bertoia

Also from Knoll was the Bertoia side chair with relaunched solid plastic seat and rilsan base, making it suitable for outdoor use, which brings me neatly back to the theme of resurrecting designs from the archives.