The music video for “California King Bed” was shot on March 17, 2011 and was shot by Anthony Mandler, who has frequently worked with Rihanna. The creative director, Ciarra Pardo, fabricated a custom made eighteen foot long bed, which was designed with a special feature to transport Rihanna the full distance from one side to the other. On May 4, 2011, Rihanna posted a picture of the video which showed her laying on a man while looking in the camera. The full video premiered Monday, May 9, 2011 on Rihanna’s official website and her VEVO account. In an interview with Jocelyn Vena of MTV News, Mandler spoke of his and Rihanna’s long collaborative history, saying:
“I think it’s something that is so unique about Rihanna whatever she’s doing, whatever character she’s playing, whatever side of herself she’s showing, she’s in it 1,000 percent… And I think the song and the theme of this song, she wanted to obviously show a softer side, a lighter side, one that’s caught in maybe a tumultuous relationship… There’s so much variety with her and it’s been such a journey with her.”
Almost the whole video set is made in tropical and romantic setting. The video begins with a shot of Rihanna herself laying down in grass. Then scenes of Rihanna walking on the beach and Rihanna curling up on the chair are shown. This is followed by her own and her partner holding each other closely in bed, sitting on different sides of a large bed, and other scenes featuring Rihanna singing through sheer curtains and drapery. In the video there are also black-white scenes showing Rihanna touching to a stone wall.