Brigham Young is making a comeback, not just on the football field, but in the furniture showroom, too.

Utah's first territorial governor had a hand in designing a currently popular bed frame for futons, says Spencer Blake, manager of Scandinavian Square, a contemporary furniture store.A futon is a piece of furniture that converts from a sofa or chair to a bed. Most people believe futons come from Japan. Although futon means "bedding" in Japanese, they are not the only ones to use the folding cotton mattresses.

"Brigham Young is credited with making the first futon frame," Blake said. "Some in our industry call it a Mormon bed."

It's called a Mormon bed because of its styling. Alternating wood slats are movable for collapsing from couch to bed and for easy packing.

"I was at a trade show and had heard the term (Mormon bed) once or twice," Blake said. "After the fourth time that someone said, `some guy named Brigham Young designed them (the frames he was selling)' - I knew it was legitimate."

Blake said the futons, frames and other furniture he sells in his store are manufactured as nearby as Utah Valley and as far away as Denmark, Norway and New Zealand. The family-owned business has operated in Provo for five years.

Blake credits the Europeans with developing some very stylish yet functional furniture.

"Scandinavians do things cleaner and smoother in their designs," he said. "During the last decade we (in America) have become educated as to what the rest of the world is doing."

Because most Europeans have small apartments or homes, their furniture must be compact and sturdy and often have more than one function.

"This style of furniture especially appeals to college students, young marrieds and those who are working on a tight budget," Blake said. "It is an inexpensive way of decorating like a top-notch designer."

A futon package that includes the mattress, couch frame and casing costs between $200 and $700, one-third to one-half the cost of a standard mattress or convertible sofa.

Couches, home entertainment centers, dining room and bedroom sets, lounge chairs and more are featured at Scandinavian Square, 164 N. University Ave.

One of the store's smaller items, but by quantity its biggest selling item, is a laundry bag and pine wood stand, made locally. Blake said he recently sold 30 in one day.


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Choosing a futon

-Contents. Cotton is the predominant filler used in futons. What type of cotton? How much polyester? etc.

-Construction. Does the futon look well-made and sturdy?

-Ticking. What type of fabric is the mattress encased in and what material is used for tufts?

-Function. How are you going to be using your futon? To both sit and sleep on or solely for one use?

-Comfort. Take a few moments and lie down on the futon.

The wood or materials used in futon frames are as varied as the countries that make them. You will find pine and hardwoods, domestic and foreign, light colors, oak colors, exotic woods and walnut color. Some are unfinished; some are stained or lacquered. You also will find contemporary styles in both sleek melamine and high-tech metal.