The History of Bean Bag Chairs
You’ve probably sat in bean bag chairs at some point in your life but have you ever wondered how they came about? Who invented them and when they became popular? Ultimate Sack looks back at the history of the bean bag chair.
The Sea Urchin Chair
The predecessor of the bean bag chair, the Sea Urchin Chair was designed by Roger Dean while he was still in the Royal College of Art in 1965. It was one of the first chairs which adapted completely to the user. It was a foam chair, which, though appearing spherical would conform to the sitter.
The Sacco (or Socco)
The bean bag chair we are familiar with today first came into existence in 1969. Italian designers Gatti, Paolini, and Teodora were working for Zanotta Design in Italy and were trying to create the right type of chair to market to the flower power generation. They needed a chair that was stylish, practical, and fit with the ’60s lifestyle. The designers came up with the Sacco or the Socco as it became known overseas.
The original Sacco’s were pear shaped leather bags. They were filled with thermocol pellets and eventually those were replaced with shredded polyurethane foam, urethane foam, polystyrene beads, Styrofoam or PVC pellets. This new chair became a very popular item because the Sacco was the first chair to adjust to the person sitting in it.
Although unconfirmed, there is a rumor that the Sacco was actually discovered by accident. This discovery came from a Styrofoam factory that put all the leftover pieces from the production line in a bag.
This Sacco is very similar to the bean bag chairs you would find at department stores in the 1970’s. However, unlike those, the Sacco used pure Styrofoam pellets, was made of high-quality leather, and has a headrest area.
The Sacco became an instant hit was one of the most popular icons of the 1970’s. Because the Sacco placed the sitter close to the floor and conformed to a variety of lounging positions, it met the casual social lifestyle of the times.
The ’70s Bean Bag Chairs
The 1970’s are when bean bag chairs made their way into department stores around the world making them available to the masses. The bean-bag chairs of that time were pretty much like the more high-quality bean bag chairs of today…that is, made of durable leather and filled with thick Styrofoam pellets.
Consumers liked that the chair molded to each individual users body shape. Professional decorators liked the lightweight, portable nature of bean bag chairs. Therapists observed that the bean bag chair helped children with sensory-integration troubles. Additionally, doctors recommended bean bag chairs for patients who were recovering from back surgery.
The ’90s Bean Bag Chairs
During the ’90s, the bean bag chair went from being cheap furniture to something very casual that would meet a wide variety of needs. Bean bag chairs of different shapes and sizes made their way into the marketplace and bean bag furniture such as bean bag sofas, recliners, and more were developed.
Also during the ’90s, bean bag chairs became more childproof. A number of children were injured and even suffocated to death after crawling inside the older style of bean bag chairs and inhaling the pellets.
In March 1995, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled 12,000,000 bean bag chairs and required all chairs sold after that date to have zippers that were childproof.
Today’s Bean Bag Chairs
The bean bag chairs that can be found today are usually made of washable fabric covers that don’t tear as easily as the leather ones and biodegradable Styrofoam pellets. In addition, some companies use urethane filler rather than Styrofoam since urethane can provide much more support and can be more reliable than Styrofoam. The Ultimate Sack bean bag chair is filled with high-quality, shredded foam.
Today, you can find bean bag chairs in many sizes, shapes and materials. Ultimate Sack manufactures bean bag chairs with washable, removable fabric covers. And by using shredded foam as filler, it provides durable, solid support.
So why not buy a bean bag chair for yourself? It’s a part of ’70s culture that will definitely serve you well for many years to come.