This year Naturalmat exhibited at Planted, the sustainable design show in Kings Cross. The company then went on to win the Best Sustainable Product award at Decorex. But Naturalmat is not new to the world of considerate design, it launched in Devon 1999, as company founder Mark Tremlett explains.
When was the company founded and where are you based? Naturalmat started making mattresses in 1999 in a boatyard warehouse on the banks of the River Exe near Topsham. The vast majority of mattresses at the time were made using man-made synthetic materials and the options for boats were particularly poor. I have always been a keen sailor and when I couldn’t find anything on the market that provided comfortable sleep aboard yachts I started making them myself using natural materials as an alternative. This was the beginning of the Naturalmat mattress range that soon developed into the nursery sector followed by mattresses for homes and hotels.
Our mattresses, beds and sleep products are still made on the same site although we now have a purpose-built factory and a team of local craftsmen working to fulfill orders from around the world.
Why did you make the decision to only use natural and sustainable materials?
It bothered us that the mattresses on board yachts were neither natural nor sustainable whilst we were surrounded by Devon’s natural beauty and resources. It seemed an incongruous match that jarred with the experience of being on the water.
Yachts are inherently damp & humid and so we used natural materials because they are extremely breathable and far better at wicking moisture away than the foam alternative.
We set out to make a mattress without chemical additives that respected the environment and provided better sleep quality. Back then this was a novel concept, but we believed that natural fibres were best and we have remained true to these principles in the development of the range as the company has grown.
Tell me about the Queen’s Award?
Truthfully, the news couldn’t have come at a better time. An official notice arrived in the early days of lockdown which was a ray of light in fairly dark times. We wrote a lengthy application that justified why we considered ourselves a sustainable business, what practices we had implemented in the manufacturing process and what measures we had in place that were different to other industry standards. In our case we had been doing all of this from day one, but we were still incredibly surprised and flattered to win.
I’ll be attending a ceremony on 10th November to receive the official award at Windsor Castle. The award has moved us into a different category and has given us new goals to work towards, people really take note of it. Our ambition is to get the Queen’s Award for Exports and B-Corp status at some point in the future. It is good to have these accreditation systems in place as they are something tangible to work towards and encourage all businesses to aim higher than perhaps they otherwise would.
You recently exhibited at Planted, the sustainable design show in Kings Cross. Do you think the sustainable message is becoming more main stream?
A resounding yes, what’s interesting about Planted is that it was specific to the sustainability message everyone is talking about. Everyone was on board with the same message and had been for a while, I had the impression the exhibitors were carefully selected and researched to communicate this message from a reliable perspective, it was very well put together.
There is a greatly increased demand for sustainable products and this is now a big part of many consumers’ buying decision. We are better educated about landfill, waste and environmental issues in the design industry. Also people are more careful about the materials and where it comes from when they are considering sleep hygiene and comfort. Global warming is becoming more of an everyday reality, rising temperatures are reported almost daily and sustainability is one of the loudest messages across all industries.
You have a specific range of products for the nursery. Is there growing demand for chemical free bedding for children?
There has always been a demand for chemical free bedding for a child, that’s where we started. Parents have been aware of the dangers of synthetics and glues for a long time but it is true to say the market has grown bigger with us and it will continue to grow.
What has changed is that adults are now just as concerned about themselves and what they are sleeping on and the idea of creating a healthy home, this is the greatest shift we have seen and is also still growing year on year.
Why should interior designers consider Naturalmat products?
We love working with designers, our trade clients really understand our product and are loyal and good customers. They buy from us because we are local, organic and sustainable and we can offer a full package under one roof that includes made to order bed bases, mattresses, bedding products and organic cotton bedlinen.
Ultimately our product provides form and function with flexibility, we can fulfil bespoke orders and notifications to the standard that interior designers want. We are not a faceless company, the makers and factory team are at the end of the phone to discuss orders and deliveries and this level of customer service is one of the biggest advantages of buying direct.
We also benefit from having a London showroom on Paddenswick Road in Chiswick where designers send their clients to try out the mattresses in our sleep zone. We can talk through colour and style as well but comfort is the biggest factor which designers find difficult to specify as it’s such a personal choice.