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Why Was The Murphy-Bed Invented?

With minimalists interiors making their way in today’s market, we really have to pay homage to the geniuses behind the idea of space-saving furniture. William Lawrence Murphy first patented the Murphy bed in 1911, and this nifty piece of furniture is still being used today. But did you know why Murphy even invented the bed in the first place?

William Murphy created the first hideaway bed in order to convert his studio apartment into a neutral space where he could entertain his future wife. Back in those days, it was considered highly inappropriate for women to enter a man’s bedroom.

The Murphy Bed’s Conception

The Murphy Bed was born out of necessity. William Lawrence Murphy needed to hide his bed to receive his future wife as a guest in his studio apartment. He began toying with the idea of a hideaway bed in the 19th century. At the time, he lived in a studio apartment in San Francisco.

Murphy was starting to fall in love with a young and beautiful opera singer. But according to courting traditions, a lady was not allowed to enter a man’s bedroom. But with limited finances and a strict moral code, Murphy found a loophole to the said tradition. By inventing the Murphy bed, he was able to hide his bed in the closet turning his studio apartment into a parlor. By 1900, he married the opera singer. (Source: The Smithsonian Magazine)

When Did Murphy Patent His Invention?

William Murphy first patented his invention in 1911. His design consisted of a full-sized mattress on a metal bed frame. The bed frame was easily maneuvered into a closet during the day and converted into a bedroom at night. Throughout the 1920s, advertisements for apartments used the Murphy Bed as their selling point. (Source: The Smithsonian Magazine)

The Murphy Bed Today

The modern Murphy Bed can now be folded into a cabinet. It has become a household brand that city dwellers adore with limited space. Robyn J. Einhorn, the National Museum of American History’s Assistant Collections Manager, did research on the bed’s place in American History for her master thesis.

The Murphy bed’s popularity came because of a combination of good timing, a quality product, and an inventive marketing strategy. A housing shortage, brought on by large population spurts in the country resulted in the building of smaller homes.

Robyn J. Einhorn

The Murphy Bed has also made its way to Hollywood through the slapstick comedy of Charlie Chaplin and the Three Stooges. Even more modern renditions of this kind of comedy can be seen in films like Police Academy II, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and Family Guy.

Though there are several cheaper versions of the Murphy Bed made by competitors, they still remain on top.

Murphy Beds continue to fill a need in living spaces of today, whether it is for small city apartments or suburban homes of empty nesters turning a college student’s old bedroom into an office or guest space.

Robyn J. Einhorn

(Source: The Smithsonian Magazine)

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