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David Perry

Savoir Beds savors high-end success

NEW YORK - High-end beds are a hit for Savoir Beds here.
     The London-based bedding producer operates a dozen showrooms around the world, including a boutique sleep shop in this city's trendy Soho neighborhood, where business is booming these days.
     "This is the greatest sleep on earth money can buy," said Erik Svensson, one of the partners of the of the Savoir Beds store here.
     That great sleep comes at some great prices. The short line of four intensely handmade Savoir Beds, stuffed with natural materials like horse tail hair, cashmere and lambswool, starts at the lofty price of $14,250, nudges up to $20,250, races up to $29,950, and then gallops up to $79,950.
     "Yes, the line sounds expensive, even outrageous, at price points of $20,000 to $30,000 to $80,000," acknowledges Svensson, who launched the Savoir store here three years ago and is looking for a second location in New York. "But this is the most important piece of furniture in the house, something we use from six to eight hours a night."
     Yes, Savoir Beds cost as much or more than many cars on the market today. "But you are only using the car for perhaps an hour a day," Svensson offered.
     The seasoned mattress salesman, who has been selling luxury beds for more than a decade, says that despite the sky-high prices, his beds represent a good value.
     "The reason we are doing well is that there is a function to every aspect of a Savoir Bed," Svensson said. "The value we offer becomes clear to our clients."
     Savoir Beds was born as a luxury line back in the early 1900s, when The Savoy, a posh London hotel, aimed to expand its luxury appointments to mattresses. Prestigious upholsterer James Edwards turned out the first bed, now known as the Savoir No. 2 and still in the line.
     The long list of rich and famous celebrities who have slept on the No. 2 over the years includes Winston Churchill, Harry Truman, Thomas Edison, Bram Stoker, Mark Twain, Claude Monet, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Charlie Chaplin and John Wayne.
     It takes a skilled craftsman, who has practiced his trade for years, more than 80 hours to create a No. 2 bed, which today retails at about $30,000.
     Svensson sees the U.S. market as becoming more interested in the benefits of sleep, a development that helps sales of better beds, in his view.

Erik Svensson holds a neck pillow for side sleepers for sale in the Savoir Beds showroom. The pillow is produced by the Pillow Bar in Dallas.
Erik Svensson
Savoir’s No. 2 bed,
Savoir’s No. 2 bed, retailing for about $30,000, is cushioned with horse tail hair, lambswool and cotton.
This display in the Savoir showroom shows the support and cushioning materials used in the company’s line of highend beds.
This display in the Savoir
Placard in Savoir Beds
Placard in Savoir Beds showroom recalls the company’s association with the Savoy hotel in London.

     "When the market is focused not just on the retail experience but on the whole issue of sleep, that puts a much stronger focus on sleep," he said.
     And New Yorkers are prime candidates for sleep-inducing beds, Svensson said. "New Yorkers have extremely busy lives," he noted. "They are making sure they are getting the highest quality of sleep when they go to bed. It is even more important if they are sleeping less (than they would like) to sleep on a bed that will give them rejuvenating sleep."
     Savoir Beds are bench-made by a single craftsman who has spent at least two years mastering his craft. "We have a level of quality control that is hard to beat if compared to as assembly line," Svensson said. "One craftsman signs off on each bed. There is a sense of pride and responsibility that is hard to match when many different people are making the bed."
     Each bed is completely handmade to the customer's specifications. The two-sided beds consist of box spring foundations with eight-way hand-tied springs, mattresses with encased coils and layers of horsetail hair, cotton and wool, and toppers with various combinations of horsetail hair, lambswool, cashmere and cotton.
     The Savoy Hotel controlled production of its luxury bedding lines until 1997, when entrepreneurs Alistair Hughes and Stephen Winston purchased the bed-making operation and created Savoir Beds. Hughes is managing director of the company.
     The two say they remain committed to Savoir's heritage through the use of the same high quality, natural materials and skilled craftsmanship for which the brand is known.

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