Bean Bags in History: Interesting Origins of an Iconic Furnishing

They adorn the floors of lawyer offices, college dorm rooms, and child and parent bedrooms alike. It’s likely you have seen them if you were around in the 60s and 70s, and they’re making a comeback in a big way today. Bean bags are comfortable and have been an interior staple for more than a few decades. Learn of the interesting origins of this iconic furnishing implement.

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Bean bags span over four decades. They have been used as furniture, toys, games, pillow fights, and photography accessories. A novice may envision a 70s hippie burning incense while sitting on a bean bag chair, but the furnishing is making a comeback because it is affordable, offers health benefits, and provides a level of comfort that can’t be supplied by other pieces.

Bean bags are not fads but a part of a multi-billion dollar industry. Thousands of online stores and retail outlets offer a range of models. Moreover, you can find bean bags in homes, apartments, resorts, and restaurants all around the world.

The Origin

The bean bag chair was created by Chesare Paolini, Franco Teodoro, and Piero Gatti. At the time, the gentlemen worked at an Italian furniture company. The first bean bag chairs were manufactured with a leather cover. However, early users, sitting on them with coffee and cigarette in hand, posed a safety hazard while burning holes into the surface.

An increase in popularity fueled a variety of alternative materials as well as multiple types of bags. In the 70s, cotton, canvas, and corduroy were popular fabrics. Polystyrene was the initial material used to fill bean bag chairs. After, EPS beads were used for filling. Later, vinyl became popular since it was easier to clean and was more affordable. Feeding into the stereotype, bean bags were especially popular with hippies who sought a relaxed seating position and inexpensive piece of furniture. Also, the chairs were easily transported from different living spaces and could be used to sit outside.

Bean bags began to lose their popularity in the 80s and 90s. Conventional furniture grew in popularity and those who once appreciated the convenience and benefits began choosing other furnishings. However, that is no longer the case. You can find a variety of choices at the Fombag online store.

Bean Bags in History: Interesting Origins of an Iconic Furnishing

The Modern Day Bean Bag

In the prior decade, bean bags have been experiencing a resurgence, not just with young people but with those who used them decades ago. However, today’s bean bag chair is unlike the originals. The bags are now made with a variety of materials, including faux fur, leather, vinyl, canvas, microfiber, polyester, nylon, PU leather, and suede. Once the bags were available in a limited number of shapes, but today’s selections are available in just about any shape imaginable.

Aside from small seating implements, today’s models are chairs, loungers, pillows, pool bags, pet bags, and even loveseats. Waterproof, water resistant, and fade resistant fabrics help boost the popularity of models that are used outdoors. Marine bean bags, floating bean bags, pool bags, and other models enable sitters to use them in the water. Unlike frugal hippies of the 70s, today’s consumers can find luxury bean bags, designer bean bags, personalized bags, and an assortment of those fitted for mansions, resorts, and upscale casinos.

Today’s bags are sold with separate inner liners, which makes the bags easier to keep clean and wash regularly. Some manufacturers make products with expanding foam versus traditional filling. The use of foam off-cuts is growing more popular; such fillings do not provide the same level of comfort as EPS bead or microbeads.

The bean bag turned 45 in 2014 and has come a long way from its humble beginnings. You can find a bean bag fit for every consumer from any corner of the world.

Related article: The Fabric Guide You Need For Creating A Bean Bag Chair

Quick Facts

When shopping for bean bag chairs, realize the difference in references. Bean bags are also known as physics bags or oversized sacs. Also depending on the supplier, they could be known as bean bags or beanbags. So when using an online search engine, try a variety of searches to unearth all the models that are available to you. Also, don’t get hung up on the ‘chair’ label. As mentioned, today’s products come in a variety of sizes and may not look like a chair at all but shaped to love like an office chair, loveseat, or couch.

Bean bag chairs have an interesting history and one that is unparalleled by other pieces of furniture. The seating implement was widely popular in the 60s and 70s, waned, and now making a huge comeback. Classics never die.

Emma Jarvis loves interior design. When she doesn’t have a paintbrush in hand, Emma writes about decorating and interior design mostly for lifestyle blogs.


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