5 minutes with: Mark Tremlett on the value of sustainable beds

Mark Tremlett started Naturalmat 23 years ago from a shed on his family boatyard, with a vision to make better mattresses for the marine industry. Along with co-founder Peter Tindall, he quickly realised that the breathability of natural fibres made them far better suited to the damp, moist environment of a boat than the typical slabs of polyurethane, and far more comfortable to boot…

Naturalmat founders Mark Tremlett (l) and Peter Tindall (r) in the company’s Devon workshop.

It was from this vision and voyage of design discovery that Naturalmat was born, and today it remains true to its roots and hand makes beds, mattresses and bedding from entirely natural materials for the retail, trade and hotel markets, all just a few feet from the Devon boatshed where it all began. We stole five minutes of Mark Tremlett’s time to ask him a few questions about the brand from collaborations through to sustainability.

Naturalmat mattress made from natural and sustainable materials

Image credit: Naturalmat

Hotel Designs: How did Naturalmat get started in the hotel industry?

Mark Tremlett: In 2008 I was approached by Simon Woodroffe, the ex Dragon’s Den dragon and founder of Yo! Sushi, who had just launched his new hotel, YOTEL. The concept behind the chain was compact but luxury ‘cabins’, so we were a natural partner on that project considering our background!

Two years later we went on to supply mattresses for the 660 rooms in Simon’s New York location, and in 2015 we collaborated with Six Senses Resorts as part of their ‘sustainable luxury’ plans, to provide our mattresses to their global chain of hotels. Today we work with everyone from Ennismore’s Hoxton hotels, to remote cabins in the Scottish highlands.

A close up of a bed inside The Bull Inn in Totnes

Image caption: Naturalmat supplied the beds for The Bull Inn, Totnes credit: Rachel Hoile Photography

HD: How have the requirements of hotels and guests changed over the last decade?

MK: Well our work with Six Senses certainly happened at a time where there was a noticeable shift in the demands of savvier guests around sustainability credentials, and also the use of natural fibres – particularly when it comes to where they sleep. This mirrored a general buying behaviour trend of consumers putting more thought into the businesses they support, with the ethics and actions of companies more important than ever. You’ll find that the hotels who acted on this switch in behaviour back then are in a far stronger position today.

Fortunately we were well placed to provide the solutions that hotels needed – a range of entirely natural fibre beds and mattresses, made sustainably since day one.

HD: What are the key things that make your product unique?

MK: Well firstly, absolutely every bed and mattress is made by hand under one roof in our Devon workshop. We are obsessive when it comes to quality control, and have always believed in people, rather than machines. We are equally meticulous when it comes to sourcing our all-natural raw materials. From the smallest duvet cover buttons – we get ours from an artisan button maker, crafted from tagua nuts – to our organic lambswool sourced directly from local Soil Association certified farmers, we go to great lengths to find the finest sustainable, renewable and recycled materials.

If I had to pick one thing though, it’s our long-standing commitment to sustainability that really sets us apart.

A bedroom inside Hoxton Southwark

Image caption: Hoxton Hotels specifies Naturalmat mattreses | Image credit: Hoxton Hotels/Ennismore

HD: What makes your products truly sustainable?

MK: Whilst the rest of our industry is scrambling to jump on the sustainability bandwagon, we’re in the fortunate position of having had an eco-friendly approach from day one.

As an example, most mattresses on the market are comprised of non-recyclable, synthetic materials, treated with chemicals and made cheaply in high quantities. It’s these low-quality mattresses that are a major contributor to the five million that go to landfill each year in the UK alone – a figure that I find absolutely terrifying. Our mattresses are designed to last, but when they do reach the end of their life, the natural fibres can be disassembled, recycled, or – as part of our new Mattress for Life initiative – the mattress itself can be entirely refurbished and refreshed for many more years of great sleep.

Away from our products, sustainability is at the core of everything we do. From our solar-powered workshop, to our now entirely compostable, recyclable or reusable packaging, we are constantly innovating and refining our eco-conscious approach.

There’s always room for improvement and we’re working hard to continually raise the bar. We’ve recently published our first Impact Report, with the boldest sustainability strategy in our industry that will challenge us to do even more between now and 2025 – including cutting our direct emissions to zero without the use of offsets. We’re also excitedly awaiting our B-Corp certification, which we are expecting this year.

> Since you’re here, why not read about how Naturalmat makes each mattress? 

Naturalmat is one of our Recommended Suppliers and regularly features in our Supplier News section of the website. If you are interested in becoming one of our Recommended Suppliers, please email Katy Phillips.

Main image credit: Naturalmat