A new mattress – which its makers say has revolutionary design – is likely to put a small New Zealand company in the forefront of sleep comfort.
Fullair is the name of both the company and the mattress material, which promises to change the way Kiwis sleep. And with good reason.
Sleep has long been identified as essential to good health and, according to Southern Cross in a 2018 study, 45 per cent of New Zealanders who took part said they experienced insomnia at least once a week.
Fullair was developed by Kiwi friends Chris Wang and Frank Qu, who say their overall mission is to help improve New Zealanders sleeping habits – and it all started one gloomy morning in Auckland.
After yet another night of "horrible sleep" and "an endless to-do list the following day", Wang was convinced there had to be a way to wake up feeling rested for a change. Determined to find it, the pair began searching for solutions.
He says their first idea was to look for a better pillow to help manage his eczema; but what was once a simple quest for the perfect pillow, quickly changed scope into a massive project to find what it takes to wake up feeling ready to seize the day.
After exhausting every possible alternative on the market, they still weren't happy, so their focus swiftly changed to testing what's out there to testing prototypes made out of different materials.
As Wang and Qu went on, they realized there was another major issue: the sustainability of the sleeping products widely available on the market. Every year in New Zealand 300,000 mattresses are discarded and taken to landfills – an eye-watering figure that puts the whole mattress industry into a whole new perspective.
And just when they started thinking their list of requirements was "simply too long", they uncovered a new material – thermoplastic polyester elastomer (or TPEE) – a material they say ticks all the boxes.
"After years of R&D we created the Fullair technology, a one-of-a-kind thermoplastic mattress material," says Wang. "Designed with an innovative 3D structure, this cutting-edge material is unlike anything else in the market; it's literally built with the idea to help you get a good night of sleep."
"The secret is in the name. Each Fullair mattress contains 90 per cent air, making it breathable and lightweight, while retaining its resilience and firmness.
"What does this mean for you? It means you're sleeping on a mattress that you can wash anytime you want, you stay cool and comfortable throughout the night and the level of comfort doesn't change over the years," Wang says.
Two forms of mattress are sold – the premium version which is made solely of Fullair material and is fully washable, Wang says. The hybrid version is made of foam plus Fullair material - with only the Fullair material washable.
Wang and Qu asked themselves what happens when people are ready to part ways with a Fullair mattress: "This is the point at which Fullair really shines through," says Wang.
He says services like those provided by Rebound (a mattress recycling company currently based in Timaru) could eventually mean mattresses could be recycled through kerb-side pick-up services, the makers have an even bolder plan. They hope that, once enough people buy the mattresses, they will have the means by which to recycle them themselves.
"It's part of our company commitment to sustainability and part of our long-term plan of using the material from old mattresses to create new ones," says Wang. "We are talking to Rebound Org for Fullair Hybrid Mattress recycle options – and once the Fullair range products have a wider coverage around New Zealand families, we will consider the most feasible option to recycle our own Fullair material as a win-win."
With sustainability built into its ethos, Wang says Fullair hopes to make a dent in that mountain of old mattresses dumped every year, all while helping New Zealand sleep better.
The new mattress material went through extensive testing before it came to market. Wang says Fullair meets EU food-contact-grade safety standards (as it is a body contact product it needs to pass rigorous safety standards) and contains no toxic or hazardous substances.
He says this makes it an ideal product not only for those looking to improve their sleep but also for those who may need a product to manage allergies and eczema.
To find out more about the Fullair innovation and see the full range of Fullair products – adult and baby, pillows and cushions – visit fullair.co.nz
*This story was edited on July 20 for clarification