Noted Italian designers developed the first bean bag chairs in the 1960’s. Their creation was called the ‘Sacco’, and was at the time described as an ‘anatomical armchair’. It became the first mass produced bean bag furniture. Just like its counterpart these days, the Sacco was filled with polystyrene beads that make them lightweight and easy to mold to the shape of the body. While enhancements to its size and shape have occurred over time, in general the bean bag chair form remains true to the design of the Sacco from the 1960’s.
The original concept behind the bean bag chair was to create stylish mobile furniture, which is unlike conventional bulky furniture. Thus the bean bag chair is easily moved from room to room as well as from indoors to outdoors. The design of it is highly praised, as it adapts to many different body shapes. The original Sacco featured a headrest that got its shape from beans being pushed up into this area. In the more modern bean bags, the head area is not a separate component, rather now a part of the bean bag chair which is accentuated.
These days, bean bag chairs are available in a vast range of colors and styles. However not all fabrics are created equal – some are more hardwearing, some suitable for outdoors use, whereas others may be warmer to the touch. In general though, the sturdier the fabric, the longer the bean bag chair will last. More sturdy fabrics are easier to maintain and clean, and require less care. Also, darker colors show fewer marks and stains than lighter color fabrics do. If your climate is cooler, a chair with a fur rather than denim fabric for instance will keep you warmer.
Fur bean bag chairs are an extra cosy option and come in a variety of colors and designs. Many feature designs that resemble animal hides, while others feature bright cheery colors. Denim bean bag chairs are one of the more hardwearing designs. These have a classic coloring and are one of the easiest styles to co-ordinate with the rest of your home décor. Like a pair of favorite jeans, denim bean bags will go with most other colors. Nylon and Vinyl bean bags help repel liquid, so are suitable options if children will be around or using the chair. Vinyl features a more leathery look and a textured feel.
You need to take extra care when filling a bean bag chair. It is best done with someone else helping you out – otherwise you can end up with thousands of polystyrene beads rolling around the floor of your living room. The best approach is to put the bag that contains the beads inside the bean bag chair and gently open it. Then the beads need to be gently poured in. Filling bean bags needs to be done indoors – as even the vaguest hint of breeze can cause the beads to scatter everywhere. One key consideration is how full the bean bag should be stuffed with polystyrene beads. Many people have their own preference – however you should bear in mind that if a bean bag chair is understuffed it won’t provide adequate support for you and may be a little uncomfortable. A fully stuffed bean bag provides very firm support. It is recommended that people with bad backs overfill their bean bag chair - as a fuller bag will provide particularly good support for your back. In general though, a good rule of thumb is to fill the bean bag to 6 inches above the widest point of the bag.
When sitting in a bean bag chair for the first time, you should sit in roughly the middle part of the bag. If you sit too high up in the bag, your back won't be entirely supported, and sitting too low may put strain on your legs. However it is best to find your own favored position on the bean bag chair - the position that you are comfortable in is best.
As a piece of interior design, bean bag chairs can be used as a main feature in a room, providing a contemporary, relaxing look. They can also be added to complement other furniture or colors. Their minimalist look provides a relief from other ‘busy’ furniture. One could argue that just looking at one is soothing and induces relaxation. In particular, they are suited to décor that will lend itself to a retro look. However bean bag chairs aren’t confined to any particular style, as the variety of fabrics and colors available will allow them to tastefully blend in with any decor.
Claire Calkin operates several websites offering advice to people on decorating and enhancing their homes.