Evolution of the Stressless Brand [History of Ekornes]
The Relationship Between Ekornes and Stressless
Before we begin down the rich history of this company, let's first explain the realtionship between Ekornes and Stressless. Ekornes is the company that manufacteres Stressless as well as some other brands. Ekornes also manufactures IMG, Svane (European Mattress Company) and Ekornes branded products (such as the Manhattan Sofa). Stressless is a brand of seating with unique comfort technologies which Ekornes manufactures.
Early History of Ekornes
As you may already know, Ekornes is a Norwegian company. What you may not know, is Ekornes began in the mattress industry. The journey starts in 1934 with founder J.E. Ekornes. At this time, Ekornes was manufacturing springs for furniture companies in the area, and soon after, all throughout Norway. With innovations in spring technology over the next couple years, Jens Ekornes left for the United States where he learned how to manufacture mattresses with the superior American machinery.
In 1947, Ekornes made a huge leap into the production of wooden furniture frames and parts for day beds and sofa beds. In 1955, the inevitable happened: Ekornes began the production of their own mattresses. The mattress industry was changed with the introduction of the foamed plastics that Ekornes introduced into these new mattresses.
Early Production of Lounge Furniture
[Pre-Stressless Furniture Production]
By the time 1966 came around, Ekornes was releasing it's newest and first collection of lounge furniture. This made Ekornes the first furniture manufacturer in Norway!
Ekornes' first lounge furniture consisted mainly of daybeds, which incorporated their experience in wooden furniture components and mattress manufacturing. Coupled with a aggressive mailing campaign of catalogs to all of Norway, Ekornes was rapidly becoming a household name in their home country.
The Birth of the Stressless Brand
In 1971, the Stressless Recliner was introduced in Norway. At the time, no one at Ekornes knew that the introduction of this early model Stressless chair would soon become the bulk of their business.
By 1975, just 4 years after the introduction of the first Stressless Chair, Ekornes revenue exceeded 100 million Norwegian Krone (Approximately $12,000,000 USD in 1975 or over $56,000,000 in today's equivalent USD).
Just 5 years after, The Stressless Brand alone hit the 100 million Norwegian Krone mark! With Stressless Recliners exporting to other countries, it was apparent that they had created something special that customers were demanding.
Growth and Expansion of the Stressless Brand
in 1994, Ekornes celebrated it's 60th anniversary. All manufacturing was moved to Norway for Stressless Chairs, Stressless Sofas, Mattresses, Ekornes Sofas, and Wood Component subcontracting. 1994 was the most profitable year since they started, but even more expansion was on the horizon. By 1996, the Stressless Chair had now been on the market for 25 years! Change was needed to keep up with the growing demand.
Nils Fredrik Drablos was appointed to Managing Director of Ekornes to solve this exact problem. He doubled the production of the factories over the course of a few months and added a tremendous amount of jobs. Ekornes made huge investments in a state-of-the-art factory which allowed him to push Ekornes into the next chapter of expansion. This expansion was due to the health and demand of foreign markets which Ekornes was now exporting most of their business to.
Stressless Modern Day Growth & Technology
By the year 2000, Stressless was producing an average of 1,100 seats per day. Ground was broken on a new Stressless Factory which was desperately needed at the growth rate Ekornes was experiencing. With massive growth in international markets, Ekornes decided to expand it's product lines to several countries around the world.
In March of 2001, Ekornes opened it's famous showroom "Ekornes Bua" in Alesund, Norway.
In 2002, The Ekornes Factory was becoming one of the most automated production factories in Norway. The Stressless chair was now a delicate balance of precision machinery and artfully skilled workers. This video perfectly illustrates the construction of a Stressless Recliner.
Between 2002 and 2007, showrooms were opening up all over the world: Sao Paulo, Paris, Las Vegas, Berlin, and several more cities in Europe, Asia and The United States.
New Stressless Seating Technology
2017, Stressless introduced the LegComfort System Base, which was the first motorized component on a Stressless Chair.