Since the bean bag became a symbol of the 1960s, it has gone through an evolution from a quirky chair to a must-have ergonomic and versatile piece of furniture. No longer is a bean bag chair a vinyl circular bag filled with beans or other uncomfortable filler. These days, the luxury bean bag chairs on the market, like the Yogibo Max, are sophisticated chairs, sofas, beds, and loungers that fully support your body in whatever position you’re in. How did they get from there to here? Take a journey through time.
The Early Days
Furniture filled with beans or other materials didn’t arrive on scene until the 1960s, although bean bags (primarily used for games) had been around since ancient times. William Roger Dean filed a patent in 1968 for what he called the “sea urchin chair.” This chair was basically a sphere that was filled with foam blocks. It technically wasn’t the first bean bag chair, though, since it wasn’t filled with beans or even a material that resembled beans.
The title of the first bean bag chair goes to Cesare Paolini, Piero Gatti, and Franco Teodoro, who invented the Sacco in 1969. The three men were commissioned to create a piece of furniture that was comfortable, attractive, and unique. In fact, it became a part of the Italian modernism movement. The leather shell of the Sacco was filled with polystyrene beads and resembled a bear when full.
The original bean bag chair reached its height of popularity in the 1970s, and nearly every modern household boasted at least one of these comfortable round chairs. Their shells were made of every fabric imaginable, from vinyl to polyester and leather to nylon. They were filled with a variety of materials, including PVC pellets, extruded polystyrene, and yes, real beans.
Once bean bag chairs went mainstream, there was a rush to make them affordable, so they were rarely made of high-quality materials like the Sacco. Most of them were spherical in shape and consisted of just one layer between the user and the filler. This meant that if a shell tore or was punctured, the filler would spill all over the place and the bean bag would be ruined.
Partly because of the mess they would make if their outer shell was ripped and partly because they were deemed dangerous for babies and small children, bean bag chairs declined in popularity during the last two decades of the 20th century. Until manufacturers developed safety mechanisms that prevented children from opening the bag and climbing inside, bean bags fell out of favor.
Today, the bean bag chair is as popular as ever again, especially with high-end products such as the Yogibo on the market. These chairs are filled with expanded polystyrene beads, which have proven to be resilient and durable. They hold their shape for a much longer time than the original fillers so that your bean bag will continue to stay full and comfortable for years to come. Not only that, but they can function as a chair, lounger, couch, or bed.
The evolution of the bean bag is a fascinating look at one of the most unique pieces of furniture ever made. Whether you grew up with a traditional bean bag chair in your home or you’re just now being introduced to them, check out the modern version and see how wonderful one can be.