Fifty years after industrial design student Charles Hall submitted a waterbed prototype as his senior thesis, H20-infused mattresses now appear to be making a comeback. As CBS reports, Hall has developed a modernized version of his original invention, and it’s "not your parents’ waterbed."
Called Afloat, the mattress contains a layer of memory foam with temperature control. There’s even a dual-temperature version for couples who can’t agree on whether to keep the bed warm or cool. The bed is also said to be resistant to dust mites and bed bugs, and the fabric covering conforms to the user’s body. They’re also significantly less “jiggly” than their vintage counterparts.
By the 1980s, one-fifth of all beds sold were waterbeds, according to CBS. They were all the rage, until suddenly they weren’t. Hall attributes their sudden decline to “bad marketing” and low-quality products.
While sex was a major selling point for the original waterbed—the first one was named “The Pleasure Pit,” and a velvet-covered version appeared in the May 1970 issue of Playboy—the makers of Afloat emphasize comfort and design.
"We’re not selling better sex," Hall’s business partner, Keith Koenig, told the New York Post. "We’re selling better sleep, more comfortable sleep, temperature control."
According to Hall, waterbeds are more comfortable than traditional mattresses. “Pressure points are eliminated, you toss and turn less, and the temperature is exactly the way you want it,” he said in a promotional video.
The mattresses are currently being sold at Koenig’s Florida-based store, City Furniture, but they will eventually be available for pre-order on the Hall Flotation website. They range in price from $2000 to $3300, which, when adjusted for inflation, works out to be the same cost of a waterbed in 1975, according to the New York Post.
A few other retailers still sell waterbeds, including Sam’s Club, Amazon, Wayfair, and The Waterbed Doctor. On Amazon, the current bestselling waterbed mattress is the Innomax Sanctuary Free Flow Full Wave, which costs about $50 for a king-sized mattress.