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Welcome to this very strange question about bedroom furniture. We've all seen the round bed in Austin Powers, and novelty beds can be round. In my Renaissance-type Earth-like world, I wanted all the beds to be round in a particular country and I started looking at beds historically.

Yep. I've been researching the SHAPE and design of beds in both the ancient world and the modern and I now know far more about the standardization of mattress sizes than any human should.

For various SOCIAL reasons, I want the beds to be round and large, even for the poor. So, constructing them AS round needs to be easy to do and accessible for everyone. It needs to make sense on a practical level. The problem is that square and rectangular beds happen for a reason, as does most square furniture. My question is, what natural conditions or materials can we create that would make the building of round shaped furniture, in particular beds, more practical and likely than furnishings with right angles? It's easy to put it down to social and religious causes. I have those and that will create some pressure, but I would like some more practical construction-related reasons for it.

Users are smaller than humans, but pretty humanoid. They only weigh like 30-40 pounds as adults, and while they aren't cat-flexible, they do like to curl up. Families are large because young are born in litters--so many families will have a dozen children. The culture tends to be more clean and hygienic than standard humans.

I'm open to making minor changes in the world like adding plants/trees that make this easier.

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    $\begingroup$ I edited the information from you comments into the question (and then deleted the comments). Feel free to edit further -- comments are to get clarification, not to have discussions, so if somebody asks something that should be answered in the post, the best thing to do is to add it. Thanks. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Apr 20 '17 at 22:22
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    $\begingroup$ Ever tried to sleep on a round bed? Let alone tried to e.g. read a book before dropping off? It's not comfortable at all. There's no difficulty in constructing round beds: the problem is that they're just not practical. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Apr 21 '17 at 3:59
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    $\begingroup$ @jamesqf Round beds are novelty beds in our world. Therefore, most aren't actually designed with comfort in mind the way regular beds are. There's nothing preventing a designer from having the same sort of comfort for a round bed, they just don't generally bother. $\endgroup$ – Erin Thursby Apr 21 '17 at 4:14
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    $\begingroup$ It's a religious/cultural thing. You are too polite to ask. If you ask, you will be answered with a story about the completeness of the one, the ying-yang and how sleeping in fetal position realign your spirit with that of your mother (earth). Goat innards will be inevitably involved at some point. $\endgroup$ – xDaizu Apr 21 '17 at 12:20
  • $\begingroup$ @jamesqf They are not unconfortable if you sleep in fetal position. Extract from Wikipedia: "The fetal position is also one of the most comfortable and familiar positions to the human(...)" link. Maybe that position is not common or confortable to you but that doesn't mean it's objectively unconfortable :) $\endgroup$ – xDaizu Apr 21 '17 at 12:24

26 Answers 26

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What about mosquito nets. It's easier to make a round net which would fit better on a round bed. See #4.

But an even better drive would be some sort of natural circular construction material. Perhaps the shell of an animal used for food. Its shallow circular shell would be a great base for a bed. Require minimal carving and still be to curved for a good table. See #2.

Could for example be a sea turtle like creature. Would work well for a coastal civilization. Would also be a logical evolution from a civilization that came from shallow holes as beds. See #1. This would require you to be a coastal civilization. I don't see a land based turtle growing to such a size. enter image description here Another option would be a natural ring shaped construction material. Add some legs and stretch some fabric across, not unlike a drum. A hybrid hammock basically. Might not be that well suited for multiple people though as you tend to slide to the center. See #3.

A fourth option would be weaving, a basket of you will. Weaving a round basket is easier then a rectangular one. Another advantage of the wicker basket is that it's the least 'fantasy' of the bunch I think. Wicker or flax are plentiful in a medieval setting. More then giant turtle shells. enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ I like number #1 for the really poor. If you have more kids, just dig a bigger hole, maybe stick some hay or bracken in. $\endgroup$ – Erin Thursby Apr 20 '17 at 22:46
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    $\begingroup$ I will say this though, by the Renaissance people did like their beds to be up off the floor, so baskets work for the poor or mid range, if we can get them away from the floor. Richer folks might use wood cut from very large trees, or slats cut into rounds in order to fake it. $\endgroup$ – Erin Thursby Apr 21 '17 at 0:33
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    $\begingroup$ @ErinThursby Renaissance people liked their beds off the floor so that any rats or mice running about at night would go under the bed rather than over them. The shell is actually a really good defense against this with curved sides that small animals wouldn't be able to so easily climb up. $\endgroup$ – Lio Elbammalf Apr 21 '17 at 8:34
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    $\begingroup$ Since the question mentioned the round bed is in a particular region, this makes sense. No trees here, and too expensive to bring them in. But these reeds are plentiful. $\endgroup$ – WGroleau Apr 21 '17 at 9:10
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    $\begingroup$ @ErinThursby No need for bed legs, which integrate the sort of rigid linear material these beds avoid; instead, suspend the baskets from the ceiling (or tree branch, whatever). Could be tied to a single point (rock gently while sleeping) or 3+ points for a fairly fixed position, and the ropes would provide connection points for privacy or mosquito covering. $\endgroup$ – brichins Apr 21 '17 at 17:52
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Basket beds.

Beds made of long rigid elements will be polygonal. Baskets are made of flexible elements and so are round or ovoid. There are lots of basket beds for animals, even big dogs the size of children. Not for people though. I blame tradition.

Round Dog Bed

There is no reason one could not build a big round basket bed out of long flexible elements like reeds. It would be very cool looking. It would be a lot lighter than a regular bed. It would be hard to fall out of. I am surprised my Google did not turn anything up.

Thursby the round bed is your fine idea so if you want to post this version on halfbakery.com go ahead. But if I don't see it come up then I will.

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    $\begingroup$ I like this answer a lot. a) cradles are a kind of "basket bed" so there's a precedent of it being used for humans b) sleeping in fetal position in an adult-size round basket bed sounds really confortable (to me, at least). I'd try it :) $\endgroup$ – xDaizu Apr 21 '17 at 12:27
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    $\begingroup$ As an aside, you could also hang a basket using less points of contact than a bed, as well as making them out of lighter materials. This would allow you to have a hanging society, like in trees or other such places. $\endgroup$ – Anoplexian - Reinstate Monica Apr 21 '17 at 20:37
  • $\begingroup$ The basket bed could have floor elements of the basket not resting on the ground but held up by the edges. These would act like box springs under a mattress. Comfy! $\endgroup$ – Willk Apr 22 '17 at 3:13
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    $\begingroup$ Look for images of wicker lounge for a round-shaped chair-ish bed. $\endgroup$ – Chloe Apr 23 '17 at 20:05
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    $\begingroup$ Speak of the devil! theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/21/… "Chimpanzees hold secret to ultimate comfy bed, says expert ...The mattress features a depression in the centre to replicate the natural dip in a chimp’s treetop bed and has a raised periphery for the head, legs and arms." $\endgroup$ – user151841 Apr 24 '17 at 15:05
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Big Trees

Many beds historically had wood frames. Wood is easy to cut and provides a relatively stable building material. We cut wood into long rectangular pieces of lumber because most lumber trees aren't thick enough to cut 2X4's horizontally (and the wood isn't as strong in that direction ). However, if you have numerous trees of sufficient diameter ( think Giant Sequoya ) it would be reasonable to think that a society could simply cut slices of the trunk for a bed surface. Plus this would also go along with the geographic region of your question, it would be easy to assume these large trees only grow in a certain country/area.

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    $\begingroup$ Who makes beds as a flat, rigid platform? Especially if you have to cut across the whole cross section. $\endgroup$ – Michael Apr 21 '17 at 8:23
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    $\begingroup$ Bed surfaces are usually designed with some flex. There are some historical cases where a solid base was used for the bed but largely only the frame was wooden and straps of leather or rope were strung between the frame to hold up a mattress. It is much more comfortable this way. $\endgroup$ – Lio Elbammalf Apr 21 '17 at 8:29
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    $\begingroup$ One option would be to make the trees hollow. This would allow the trunk cross section to easily act as the frame. It would also remove the impetus to just cut the tree into boards as you could get very few straight pieces out of it. $\endgroup$ – Stephen Ruhl Apr 21 '17 at 13:49
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    $\begingroup$ "We cut wood into long rectangular pieces of lumber because most lumber trees aren't thick enough to cut 2X4's horizontally" I don't think that has anything to do with it. It really is only because wood is not strong at all in that direction. But cutting trees according to the rings rather than vertically is interesting indeed $\endgroup$ – njzk2 Apr 21 '17 at 14:40
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    $\begingroup$ While I like the concept, this wouldn't work, or at least wouldn't be practical/economical. As mentioned, 2x4s (and other dimensional lumber) are cut lengthwise because the strength of wood is far stronger (roughly 10x) along that axis. A large disc would have to be thick enough to prevent splitting (far thicker than lumber cut lengthwise), or have enough support points that the arrangement becomes inefficient. $\endgroup$ – brichins Apr 21 '17 at 18:00
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If your world has a type of plant (or possibly giant fungus) that grows plentiful circular shaped mattresses that are better than any manufactured bedding, I imagine any beds your society makes will be built to support/accommodate those natural circular mattresses.

Maybe these natural mattresses are softer than any manufactured mattress, or possibly they naturally repel your worlds version of bedbugs or fleas. They are in any case free or very cheap and superior to any other mattress, so why would anyone make beds that are the wrong shape for them?

One caveat about this solution is that if it is possible to cut one of the natural mattresses down to a smaller size (and thus shape it from circular when doing so), that would remove the need for circular beds. In that case, you might want to say that a cut mattress loses some of its superior traits; it loses the ability to repel insects or possibly deflates when punctured.

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    $\begingroup$ Giant mushroom tops? +1 $\endgroup$ – Erin Thursby Apr 21 '17 at 6:53
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    $\begingroup$ My friend , come my friend! Look at my ShroomMats(TM) Do you know that : If cut shroomats, loose their soft propreties, the outter layer of the shroom keep it in a natual state. The outter layer of the shroom is also know to repell Bougeyman. This circular is the best bed. when cut into square or rectangle, naaa you don't want that my friend. One side of the bed is always softer, making couple fight for the 'good' side. You don't wanna fight for the good side, my friend.. she always win. $\endgroup$ – Drag and Drop Apr 21 '17 at 7:46
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    $\begingroup$ If the outer edge or "bark" of the plant is substantially tougher, it would naturally hold the softer inner part together, so cutting would mean the mattress part would collapse/spill out over time. $\endgroup$ – freedomn-m Apr 21 '17 at 8:39
  • $\begingroup$ Was just about to post this exact answer. "Portabella: The bowling ball mattress" $\endgroup$ – Myles Apr 21 '17 at 20:32
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    $\begingroup$ Good thinking - small ones can be harvested for beds/seats/other furniture, or they can be left to grow and be harvested much later as whole rooms. Ostenatious wealth might be demonstrated by the diameter of your house bubble. $\endgroup$ – Criggie Apr 24 '17 at 11:53
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Round beds fit better in round rooms than rectangular ones, so start with your structure design. Consider the yurt as a basis:

Mongolian yurt aka ger, from Wikipedia

Resort yurts are actually a thing in some places today, and I've heard descriptions of "compounds" where several round yurts are placed in adjacent, contiguous clusters. (Here's a site that describes how to do this.) So you can have your bedroom round rooms and your shared-space round rooms in the same structure.

Yurts are made, traditionally, from saplings or other flexible pieces of wood, lashed together into the lattice structure that forms the walls. Canvas or felt completes the construction. The peak usually has a flap, so you can (and Mongols did) have a fire inside, in the center, with a place for smoke to escape.

Once you have your round rooms, you can make basket beds (as suggested in another answer) or use cloth cases stuffed with your choice of filling. Historically on Earth, straw bedding has been used in this way. Your world might provide more supple, comfortable plant material.

Round cases (bags) are no harder to sew than rectangular ones. They're probably easier, actually -- the stresses are the same all the way around, with no corners to finish.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't agree that a round bed fits better in a round tent - at best in the center or if it's large enough to segment into smaller rooms (in that case, again, in the center). If it were at the edges, it would make the areas up to the walls harder to access, in addition to already requiring more space than a rectangular bed simply because it has to have a constant diameter of around 200cm, instead of just being 200x80 cm like a regular bed. $\endgroup$ – Syzygy Apr 21 '17 at 14:09
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    $\begingroup$ @Syzygy I meant in the center; I was envisioning a round room with a round bed centered in it filling most of the room, given the communal nature of the sleeping arrangements. I started to write this answer before the users' small size was clear (I was thinking human-sized), so these would be smaller rooms than we humans are used to. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Apr 21 '17 at 14:53
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe have your users culture start out using yurts in a cold region with a fire in the middle and a ring bed around the fire that the whole family shares. Then when their infrastructure evolves into permanent dwellings with fireplaces, the ring bed turns into smaller whole circles for individual use or continue the concept of a family sharing a single large bed. $\endgroup$ – funk423 Apr 21 '17 at 17:48
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First things first, you need a cheap and easy construction. Poor people will only ever use big beds if space, especially roofed space, is cheap enough not to make any difference. So you probably need a climate that allows light roofs and cheap walls. It needs to be rather dry, not too hot, and not too windy. Sadly, this largely eliminates any need for a bed for the poor - just some rags or a cheap hammock will do! So you need to get the ground cold, and the walls too weak for hammocks.

Second thing, you need to eliminate the need for tight cities. This means, transportation should be fast, cheap and really affordable. Either some magic, beast of burden that won't require a lot of upkeep (remember, horses are expensive), or geography that will actually prevent cities anyway. I believe this is actually the hardest point of all.

Third thing is the usefulness of shapes. If you have a rectangular bed, you can put two mattresses next to each other to fill up a bigger bed. "Economy of scale" will make it cheaper. And for blankets, sheets etc - these will be rectangular, that's how looms work. So with a rectangular bed, nothing hangs over. You need some source of circular sheets or a very, very strong reason to ignore this issue.

The actual material for a bed is the least of your concerns. Sure, straight pieces of wood are easiest to assembly, so that's the way it'll be most of the time, even if you have room for circular beds. And it is easiest to just forge a straight metal bar and cut it to the size when you are making metal beds. So you need to make steel expensive and scarce. Similarly with straight trees. You need all trees of reasonable size to be bent in a semi-circular way to make these cheaper. Reserve straight wood and steel for "higher purposes". Or make all wood expensive and go with other good designs of sleeping furniture, not a traditional "bed". But if, for whatever reasons, space will be at premium, no material will help - it'll be small and rectangular, to use space effectively, or no bed at all.

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    $\begingroup$ Upvote for some great examples of how the bed shape plays into the larger civilization $\endgroup$ – brichins Apr 21 '17 at 18:21
  • $\begingroup$ @brichins thanks. That's what I aimed for. OP asked for environmental changes, and I understood he wanted the big picture. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Apr 21 '17 at 18:30
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I think a lot will depend on stuff I don't know, but I could see, a round bed that sleeps many. Parent's and adults on the inside, children on the outside.

I think really cold weather would do it too. A round bed that sleeps 4 or 8, with a hole in the middle for heat stones and small fires.

Maybe some kind of nomad tradition, a round bed frame was actually a floor in the wet spots, a table in the dry spots and bed at night, it just depended what you put underneath, or on top of it.

For sure though. You don't "need" that much need. Just a tiny little need that was popular for some reason. Then it because "that's just the way it's always been" and there's not much need to change it.

It could even be so simple as the fat animal they used to kill to make beds left a naturally round shape, and as time moved on and "fake fat animal" was used they kept up the tradition.

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    $\begingroup$ Or how about the bed was actually a wheel, when you made camp for the season to hunt or wait out a cold winter you made the wheel into a bed, and the "wagon" into low house. Without the Romans (or slightly fatter horses) who knows how wide a wagon could be. $\endgroup$ – coteyr Apr 21 '17 at 17:29
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As others have said, baskets. Now, why do they choose this route?

Lets suppose a fast-growing plant, something akin to bamboo. It naturally makes long pieces an inch or two in diameter. However, unlike bamboo it has a special property: When treated in some fashion (heat? chemical?) it temporarily becomes flexible and can be formed, it retains that shape afterwards.

On Earth we frequently use woven baskets but they do not see use for larger things because what we make them out of simply doesn't have the strength. These pieces have a strength similar to wood.

With primitive tools it's hard to make planks of wood. (Think about the log cabin--such techniques were used in preference to planks because it took a lot less labor!) However, this technique is simple. Things (not just beds) are round because it's much easier to make them that way.

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  • $\begingroup$ This will work really well. +1 $\endgroup$ – Erin Thursby Apr 22 '17 at 21:35
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They like to curl up so that's a good start. Let's say they virtually never lie out flat to sleep, this would eliminate the need for length in beds.

Secondly, they are very small and light, compared to humans, so there isn't the same need for support / tension that we have in spring-type mattresses, not to mention the height.

And with large families, you need to be able to make a lot of them quickly, so the simpler the design the better.

So, with all that in mind, a bed is just a loop of tough fabric, which is filled with soft stuff (foam / straw / hay / whatever). And what is the most natural state for a loop? A circle!

At least, that might be the history of beds, nowadays it's become so traditional that that's just the shape of their beds. Rectangular beds? Leave that to the Austin Powers type characters...

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For a real world example I would look to the papasan chair (maybe scale it up a bit) it's typically constructed from Rattan which is a very rapidly growing type of wood so would be cheap and easy for your people to harvest and grow should they live near a source. Rattan is also rather light weight and strong making it easier to transport or move for smaller individuals or say nomads. since the bed frames are round they could also be used as maybe a type of wheel by a nomadic people and then taken off a cart when camp is made and then place a mattress and tent or tarp over it that could be held up by poles lashed to the radial lines of the chair.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papasan_chair

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You mentioned that you are

open to making minor changes in the world like adding plants/trees that make this easier

so, I would recommend making hardwood trees that grow in a crescent or bent shape.

I imagine that at some point in history, our rectangular furniture developed from using the straight, rigid woods that grow around human settlements. If the woods available to your people are rounded, they'll have to make their beds out of 2-3 pieces of wood, resulting in a circular shape.

Even though round beds were a product of primitive necessity in ancient times, the individuals of your world got used to them, and see no reason to change the shape of bedroom furniture from what has been the norm for centuries. Even though new technologies and materials are now available, a bed of any shape but round would feel strange.

This shape should be consistent across social strata.

As an aside, a few trees or a forest might make for distinctive cover art.

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On Earth many birds and some mammals build cup-shaped nests by weaving together natural materials such as grass and pliable branches, bound together by mud, saliva or even spider silk. You could say that your people had evolved from nest-building ancestors who used similar methods, or that the poor in their society still do use similar methods. Richer people might have upgraded to artificial nest-type beds made from coiled vines or rope glued or woven together. If you try making a basket, bowl or mat by coiling any rope-like material, you will soon find that a circle is much the easiest basic shape to make.

The nests might sound less hygienic than human beds, until you remember the fact that human upholstered bedding belonging to even the cleanest people gradually fills up with dead skin cells and the eggs, faeces and bodies of dust mites and other little beasties I'd rather not think about. In contrast these nests or coiled vine/rope beds would take little time or skill to make and so could be replaced often.

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Ghosts love corners

Apparently, in some worlds ghosts can adhere to any cornered surfaces. Fortunately for your world, they tend to only materialise approximately up to an arm's distance to sleeping humans, starting around at midnight every day. They are quite annoying to deal with - they constantly make noises and tend to leave hard-to-remove ectoplasm stains on all surfaces. Not making your beds round means interruptions to your sleep cycle and additional cleaning work, so ghost-proofing your bed is very much a practical concern if you'd rather avoid that.

Additional point: This is Renassaince, so people have been looking for some kind of a fashion statement to show off how much they rebel against the traditional values and how extremely forward-looking and progressive they are. Enter the perfect (re)discovery to showcase these values: the Rounded-Corner Bed (patent pending). It's the ultimate fashion statement, putting a fresh twist on the seemingly well-understood topic of ghost-proof bed making.

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    $\begingroup$ I was going to post that spiders, snakes, bedbugs, or house-ghosts would like to hide in dark corners but you beat me to it. The corollary is that houses/shelters would also be built without corners for the same reasons. So such a culture would value smooth curves and radiii and dislike straight lines and cut edges. $\endgroup$ – Criggie Apr 24 '17 at 11:50
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My thought is that the round frame easily supports tension. When I build an old-fashioned upulstered chair, I stretched webbing across a wooden frame; newer systems have even stronger steel springs spanning a steel frame, as opposed to coils stacked on top of webbing.

The wood frame needs to be strong enough to withstand the tension, and the weight upon the webbing.

Perhaps they develop a technique that uses strong high-tension spans like the steel I mentioned that combine the function of taught webbing and orthogonal springs, but made of something easy to obtain for them. A compression spring would not be easy to find.

Also, what material is available for the frame? It might be much cheaper to make it arch-like than to make it thicker/stronger. So it’s either a round bed, or elaborate scallops.

If the frame is built up from laminating thin strips, a single always-convex shape is easy, and clamping up and using forms to make recurves is a lot of work.

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I can see a few different situations impacting this:

  • Space constraints. Square / rectangular things fit in spaces with sharp edgesbetter. Having larger rooms and less space restrictions in the world would help, or curved walls.

  • Construction - There are a few things that could make round easier.

    1. Flexible, but hard to cut materials. Bending something into a circle to form a frame would make round easier than sharp corners. This could be weaving materials into curves, or a single flexible plank of some sort.
    2. Large trees could be sliced into rings
    3. Hanging - hanging from a central point would make round a natural fit, perhaps beds are off the ground hanging from the roof, above the rest of the room.
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Obligatory Hitchhiker's Guide reference:

Very few things actually get manufactured these days, because in an infinitely large Universe such as, for instance, the one in which we live, most things one could possibly imagine, and a lot of things one would rather not, grow somewhere. (A forest was discovered recently in which most of the trees grew ratchet screwdrivers as fruit. The life cycle of ratchet screwdriver fruit it quite interesting. Once picked it needs a dark dusty drawer in which it can lie undisturbed for years. Then one night it suddenly hatches, discards its outer skin which crumbles into dust, and emerges as a totally unidentifiable little metal object with flanges at both ends and a sort of ridge and a sort of hole for a screw. This, when found, will get thrown away. No one knows what it is supposed to gain from this. Nature, in her infinite wisdom, is presumably working on it.)

No one really knows what mattresses are meant to gain from their lives either. They are large, friendly, pocket-sprung creatures which live quiet private lives in the marshes of Squornshellous Zeta. Many of them get caught, slaughtered, dried out, shipped out and slept on. None of them seem to mind this and all of them are called Zem.

-- Adams, Douglas (1997) The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide p350

So, beds could be round because this is the natural shape of the creature that they hunt for bedding. If that is too disturbing for your story you could make it a plant ;-)

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Worldbuilding. This is mostly a link-only answer. Could you summarize a little more from Hitchhikers to explain the circumstances behind the circular beds? $\endgroup$ – kingledion Apr 24 '17 at 19:19
  • $\begingroup$ done. I was worried about quoting copyrighted material, but read the guidelines and I think this should be safe as Fair Use. $\endgroup$ – M Conrad Apr 24 '17 at 19:57
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Easily available circular waste material, such as utility cable spool ends, that makes bed-building quite inexpensive. These are already used for e.g. tables and other furniture, and if these kinds of spools were much more widely used you'd probably see a lot more clever reuse projects too.

Alternatively, imagine that trees grow very thick (but not necessarily as tall), and it's easier to just take a horizontal slice as the basis for a piece of furniture than to waste that by milling boards like we do now.

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Hanging beds for a treetop society. If the frames were initially made from vines, they'd probably be circular-ish like the basket-bed answer suggests. A circle is also easier to stabilize in a hanging scenario than a rectangle, requiring only three ropes. After the society moved down from the treetops, the circle beds persisted as tradition/ingrained thinking.

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Beds are round because they have always been round. Why would anyone want to sleep on a bed with uncomfortable corners?

Our ancestors slept on large sacks filled with dried grass, and every night they fluffed the grass out into a sphere before flattening the center down and curling up on it for the night. Fluff your bed every night and it stays clean and dry; if you've used the right kind of grass it will repel mosquitoes, too..

These days, of course, we have nice modern materials, and all sizes of beds, from small circles for one person to curl up on to large half-room-size beds for a whole family.

I hear that the the visitors from Earth have small beds that they call bean bag chairs; I'm not sure what they are used for...

[Note: haystacks are round, too... maybe people got used to climbing into a haystack to keep the rain and wind off.]

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for sleeping on sacks -- if your beds evolved from sacks stuffed with bedding material, then they'd likely assume a naturally round shape. There's no reason to break with that tradition later as fabrication materials & methods improve. $\endgroup$ – A C Apr 22 '17 at 17:36
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Adding to great answers here, you can try waterbed.

Waterbed

Water naturally has "round" shape, so it is not a surprise if there is a giant fruit filled with water to be used as a bed. In fact, in your world the main source of food is this plant, so the skin is not wasted, but used as bed.

Poor people can only build bed from wasted skin (there might be patches), but rich people can change their bed everyday (or week) for the freshness of their bed.

Waterbed provides a good way to reduce body heat, so if your people are like dogs, then this is just perfect.

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    $\begingroup$ As I was skimming down this page, my eyes landed on your 2nd paragraph before the first. I definitely scrolled back up to see just what kind of sick world you were envisioning where "poor people can only build bed[s] from wasted skin"! $\endgroup$ – A C Apr 22 '17 at 17:39
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    $\begingroup$ Water naturally has a round shape?!? $\endgroup$ – Federico Poloni Apr 22 '17 at 18:29
  • $\begingroup$ @FedericoPoloni in atmospheric environment, that is. I'm not talking about the molecule. $\endgroup$ – Vylix Apr 22 '17 at 18:31
  • $\begingroup$ "A liquid is a nearly incompressible fluid that conforms to the shape of its container [...]" - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquid $\endgroup$ – Jens Apr 24 '17 at 11:41
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Bean bags.

bean bag

Beans or hay are naturally abundant in your world and hide/leather is naturally abundant, so people, even poor, just make a bag and stuff it with hay or beans.

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Fewer ground-based insects or vermin

In order to come up with a society where circular beds are common, we have to ask: why are beds rectangular in the first place? Indeed, making a mattress that is basically a beanbag sack thrown on the ground is simpler than fitting together all the seams you need for a proper bed-mattress.

The reason mattresses are rectangular is because beds are rectangular.

The reason beds are rectangular is because humans like to lie down when sleeping, and four legs are a stable structure for a raised plank that can support a human in this position.

The reason why we have raised beds in the first place instead of placing mattresses on the ground? Because insects (some of which are parasitic like ticks or fleas) tend to crawl on the ground, and a raised structure makes it harder for them to reach the sleeper. This is why, although we are willing to use "basket beds" for pets, humans generally don't use them.

So less ground-based vermin = no beds = simpler mattresses = circular beanbags.

Alternatively...

You mention that this species likes to curl up. It could be that they will have round mattresses already - the reason our beds are rectangular is because of our preferred sleeping position. In this case, if beds are needed due to vermin, they might be shaped like tripods.

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In David Brin's Brightness Reef, the planet has a bamboo-like tree that grows very large. If this were plentiful on your planet, locals could saw it down and make many beds from the nodes, where the diaphragm would make a natural platform. The internode walls could be trimmed to make short or tall legs or posts (or post bases). Ambitious furniture makers might locate plants with just the right geometry (adolescent specimens, perhaps) to make into natural bunk beds. And one would have to expect plentiful smaller pet beds from the crowns of these plants.

The rest of the body - hollow - would probably make a natural fuel source and/or other construction material. And boats. Bamboo as large around as adults of your species laying curled has all sorts of possibilities.

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As everybody mentioned you need "need" for the round bed. So you need to reverse engineer the whole building making. So why they are square and why they accommodate square beds.
The answer is that it is cheaper and faster to make the material (wood or stone) straight than with a curve. Even round tents are made from straight sticks.

So the outcome is that only rich people could afford extra work and material waste for circular furniture.

Remember that social reasons are made from the needs and restrictions of economically and environmental rules. So your SOCIAL standards or taboos would need to grow from your people surrounding, so that even when the cost of abiding them would be high they would be kept.

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Can you give them a reason why the beds would need to be rotated?

A rectangular bed would be impractical then, because the entire weight needs to be placed on wheels that are near the center, so they never come out from under the bed, so this needs to be a very sturdy build. If you go for a circular shape, you can have support wheels all the way out to the rim, so the forces involved are a lot smaller.

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  • $\begingroup$ This actually does not answer the question, and is more fit as a comment asking for clarification $\endgroup$ – Vylix Apr 22 '17 at 14:59
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    $\begingroup$ Actually, this does seem to be an answer, though perhaps in a roundabout way. OP wants to know what conditions might encourage building round furniture over rectangular, which this answer does appear to provide a suggestion for: give the people a reason to make their beds rotatable. Now, you could argue all day about that just shifting the issue, but there's another aspect to this: Given that these humanoids are more clean and hygienic than standard humans (whatever that means), they might appreciate their furniture being easy to move around (to clean underneath). Rotation is just a bonus! $\endgroup$ – a CVn Apr 22 '17 at 20:42
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If beds are poured in-situ and then solidify (in the same manner as concrete slabs), a circular bed would make sense if that's the easy way to make formwork for the liquid. Just nail a stake in the ground, bend a (admittedly long and flexible) board into a circle and pour in the bed solution. Curing-period later, you've got a cylindrical bed. You could substitute other substances for a fluid, and still constrain them with circular formwork.

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