News / 5.28.15

Throwback Thursday – Simmons Beautyrest Center at the New York World’s Fair

An Epstein designed Pavilion that helped tell the ‘Story of Sleep’ for millions of Fair visitors

Our weekly Throwback Thursday journeys through the Epstein archives takes us back to July 1964 for one of the most unique projects our firm ever designed – the Simmons Beautyrest Center – which was constructed for the New York World’s Fair.

The Epstein designed pavilion, which was intended to be used only during the Fair’s two six-month windows in ’64 and ‘65 and then dismantled, featured a design that was definitely influenced by the ‘Googie Architecture’ movement of the time which featured a futurist influenced by the booming US car culture, Jet airplanes, the nascent Space Age as well as the ever present fear of the Nuclear Bomb.

This building, along with many of its contemporaries, featured ‘modern’ building materials including reinforced concrete, fiberglass, plastic, tempered glass and stainless steel.

Additionally, this Simmons Pavilion was designed to be a giant advertisement for the Beautyrest brand and was in constant competition with other similar Fair building ‘ads’ by competing companies.

During the Fair Simmons used this building to tell the ‘story’ of sleep which through the use of five incredibly ‘whimsical,’ or if you prefer ‘kitschy,’ displays collectively called the ‘Land of Enchantment’ that followed man’s progress from a ‘rock’ pillow to the Simmons Beautyrest mattress. This first floor exhibit area included animated, think Chuck E. Cheese, displays showing sleep pixies digging sand for the Sandman, historical figures like Shakespeare, Napoleon and George Washington, all having trouble sleeping because they didn’t have a Beautyrest mattress, as well as a secret Simmons laboratory where ‘sleep scientists are developing newer, quicker ways to (visit) Slumberland.’

In addition, visitors could pay an additional $1 fee to visit one of Simmons’ private rest alcoves, or as we like to call them, Napatariums (patent pending), where you could lie down and take a 30 minute snooze. Each of these sleeping ‘alcoves’ was carpeted and furnished with bed, blanket, shelf and full-length mirror. In addition, the beds could be electronically adjusted like hospital beds to provide the perfect napping conditions.

The Beautyrest Center was dismantled shortly after the second phase of the Fair was finished in October of ’65, but we have to say that we absolutely love the over-the-top nature of our design and how it took all these ‘futuristic’ ideas and melded them into one mesmerizing structure.