The evolution of living spaces and their uses has expanded in some very interesting ways over thousands of years and the furniture used has also evolved to reflect the society we live in. Today we require multiple use everything, something with only one function is perceived as antiquated and unconnected which makes the futon bed an incredible piece of furniture.
A futon sofa-bed is one of the most functional and easy to use, as well as comfortable and inexpensive beds available today. The only simpler bed may be hammock, but in a urban landscape which often lacks appropriately spaced trees, the futon is a much better choice. It traces its origins back to ancient Japan where these bedrolls became as common as the raised bed in Europe. The first futons are rumored to have been made by samurai who were not very skilled at swordplay and were relegated to making sleeping mats.
The very essence of a futon is mobility and flexibility. It was realized very early on in Japanese culture that it is unnecessary for an entire room to be delegated solely for the task of sleeping. A good mattress was one that could be easily rolled up and stored out of the way making every room a living room. This style of effective use of space has easily progressed into today's modern world while increasing population density is speeding along the change in other cultures.
Even in western culture people are living in increasingly cramped confines but are effortlessly adapting to these constraints with ingenious results. The futon was adapted into the futon bed only 30 years ago, effectively combining two essential comfort items. Who knows what the next adaption will bring, possibly built in wireless controls for lights, electronics, and temperature. Maybe the future will bring wheels and waterproof canopies to furniture?
One thing is for certain and that is the increasing functionality and uses of every device and product we use and own. A painting will no longer only be a painting, but will supply sound and even sync to the functions of the home allowing for many forms of automation. A chair will not just be for sitting, but may actually clean up the counters while you are away, and give you a massage when you return. The futon bed is just one of the first and simplest multi-use adaptations of furniture that is sure to inspire more innovations. There are already floors that fold out into chairs, sofas and tables which is very futon-like and surely big in Japan.