A platform bed, also known as a cabin bed, is a bed the base of which consists of a raised, level, usually rectangular horizontal solid frame, often with rows of flexible wooden slats or latticed structure meant to support just a mattress. This platform alone provides adequate, flexible support and ventilation for a mattress, eliminating the need for a box-spring or separate bed base (foundation).
The actual date for the invention of the first platform bed is impossible to pinpoint, as the modern box-spring was not invented until the mid-1860s. Since the basic definition of a platform bed is "a bed which uses only a mattress", all incarnations of the bed up to that point would necessarily functionally be considered platform beds. While we generally think of the modern platform bed as having a solid surface for sleeping; rope, leather and wooden or bone slat bases were all used as supports for early mattresses.
Platform bed development was closely intertwined with the evolution of the modern bed. The earliest humans most probably slept on the ground. It would have been cold, hard and offered no protection from crawling insects or small animals. Readily available piles of leaves and branches could be covered with animal pelts which provided superior warmth and comfort to sleeping on the ground probably inspiring the first thoughts of a raised dedicated sleeping space. The basic platform bed concept was born from this and has developed ever since in numerous styles and materials but always on the basic principle of raising one's sleeping surface off the ground developed by early humans.
Some of the earliest existing platform beds were created by the early Egyptians who created a wooden framework glued and lashed together which have been found in many burial tombs For instance, in King Tutankhamen's tomb a gilded ebony platform-style bed was found. Studies of ancient hieroglyphs suggest that the platform beds were revered in Egyptian culture. While common people slept on simpler constructions, the trend developed to decorate the woods surface with gilding and paints and also to use carving to enhance the beauty of this utilitarian object. Ivory, exotic woods and metal were used as inlay or even as the entire foot on the best constructions, bringing artistic design to a commonplace object. This style of platform bed, which might be more accurately described as a chaise longue or daybed were the basic building blocks leading to today's modern platform bed. This period provides the earliest representation of platform bed construction to survive.
Platform beds that might be recognized as more accurate representations of today's platform beds were better defined as loft beds. The beds were originally situated high off the ground to allow for more living space below. Over time the beds moved closer to the ground, to their present placement.
Early twentieth century design in both Europe and America incorporated elements that helped lead to the wide variety of platform bed styles available today. Minimalism styles and influences in painting and sculpture quickly found their way into furniture design, offsetting the more elaborate designs found in the Victorian Era. The Asian approach of "less is more when done artfully" and the cultural appreciation for natural materials also helped to define the basic feel, shapes and decorative elements found on today's platform bed designs. Mission style furniture also drew on these trends emphasizing precision craft and a simplicity of materials which lead directly to the basic geometric building block theme still seen as crucial elements of a modern platform bed. In the 1940s futon and futon frames incorporated the platform bed ethos and continue to this day to be a popular offshoot of the platform bed idea.
Today, platform beds are generally made from wood, metal, bamboo or leather and may or may not include a headboard and foot board. Platform beds are able to support a mattress without the use of a box-spring, although many beds are able to accommodate the box-spring if desired.
- "History of the Platform Bed". Platform Bed Info. Archived from the original on 2014-11-14. Retrieved 28 June 2014.
- Choi, Charles Q. (8 December 2011). "World's Oldest Bedding Discovered in Cave". LiveScience. Retrieved 28 June 2014.
- . Wright, Lawrence. Snug and Warm: The History of the Bed. The History Press, 2004, p. 5.