What do you get if you add three Italian designers, the hipster 1960’s generation and a Styrofoam factory together? You get an idea. An idea that will go on to become the part of daily lives millions of people around the world. An idea that is now recognized as a pioneering moment in the history of modern furniture. An idea which is now fondly known as the ‘Bean Bag’.

One word is not enough to explain awesomeness of the bean bag. It is informal, comfortable, portable, durable, practical, and above all cheap. It can accommodate any part of the house whether its indoors or outdoors and still not look out of place. And best of all because it has no fixed form this ‘anatomic chair’ can mould itself to any person based on the contour of their body. In short, it is the ultimate utility furniture.

A Brief History

It was late in the 1960’s that the Bean Bag came into being. Piero Gatti, Cesare Paolini and Franco Teodoro were three Italian designers who were working for the Italian Company called  Zannotta. They were tasked with designing a chair that would be informal, comfortable and be an expression of unconstrained relaxed living. In short something that would represent the essence of the Hippie generation. But rather than to say that they created the beanbag it would be more precise to say that they ‘discovered’ it. Grapevine has it that while visiting a Styrofoam factory they saw the workers putting all the excess Styrofoam into a sack. Inspired by this idea the designers created a pear shaped bag created with high quality leather and packed with Styrofoam pellets. They named it the ‘Sacco’ or the sack. The product was an instant hit and the Italian elite loved it. But since it was made of high quality leather the common masses could not yet afford it.

The Sacco

It was in the 1970’s that the Bean Bags got its present name. A less costlier version of the Sacco, they were made of inexpensive products and came in many more shapes and sizes to cater to individual interests. The popularity of the bags dwindled in the 1980’s the bags were relegated to kids furniture. With improved production methods and more pleasing designs that made it more durable and attractive, the bean bags had a resurgence in the late 90s which continues to this day.

How to make the right choice

Nowadays there are many kinds of beanbags of all shapes and sizes made of different kinds of material available in the market. If your are planning on buying a beanbag there are a few important aspects you need to consider.

  1. Shape: When it comes to the shape the beans bags typically come in four different shapes. They are the teardrop, armchair, cylinder and sack.  If you are looking at comfort, the Sack is the most popular form of beanbag and it is favored by everyone both old and young alike. If you want it to be shaped as a chair or stool the armchair or cylinder beanbags are an ideal choice. If it is back support that you require then the Teardrop is the one for you. Because they are taller and can cover most of the body the teardrop shaped beanbag offers the best back support.
  2. Size: Coming to the size, most of the beanbags sold in India come in three sizes: XL, XXL and XXXL. Not to be confused with Clothing sizes do not be fooled into thinking that an XL would be sufficient for your requirements. XL sizes are usually meant for Kids. XXL and XXXL sizes are meant for adults. The XXXL ones can just about accommodate two people.
  3. Outer Fabric: Leather, Fibre, Denim, Cotton, Vinyl. Beanbags found in the market are most commonly made of these kinds of fabrics. Depending on your preference you can either go for the Vinly ones which are easy to clean or the cloth based ones which are more comfortable. It would if possible be better to choose beanbags that has a liner so that the fabric can be removed and washed occasionally.
  4. Beans: Lastly, let us also discuss the beans. Bean Density is what you need to look at when buying the beans. If beans in your bag are of lower density the beans flatten out faster. The higher quality ones can last 2-3 years.

So the next time you think about visiting the Furniture Stores nearby to purchase a bean bag be sure to keep these things in mind.

Written by Bajith Sasidharan

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