Sunday, September 21, 2008

Artifact: Beanbag Chair

The beanbag chair originated from small sacks of dried beans or PVC pellets that were used to play games and juggle with. Gatti, Paolini, and Teodora, from the Italian Zanotta Company, designed the chair in the early 1960’s. The first beanbag chair was pear-shaped to give neck support, but later beanbag chairs changed the design in many other ways than that. The first beanbag chair, called a “socco” or “sacco,” was filled with a Polyurethane Foam pellet and covered with leather. After many failed attempts the design of the beanbag chair changed over and over again, especially with the later mass production of the chair in the 1990’s. Some beanbag chairs are still pear shaped; others are round/spherical, flat and square, and even cubical. However the main aspect of the beanbag chair remained the many different kinds of plastic foams that filled the center of these chairs and sculpted a seat from the person’s body that sat in the chair. This was a great feature for patients who had back surgery, because doctors actually recommended they use them. Also, the chair was a simple solution to seating more people during social events because they are lightweight, and many people can sit on just one (depending on the size). With this chair’s great popularity came many names that include already mentioned: “socco,” “sacco,” as well as, “physics bag,” “oversized sac,” and “love sack.” The beanbag chair “revolutionized” the concept of a “rigid, hard surface design” in a chair, and became the icon of the 1970’s.

Wikipedia, Searchwarp, BeanBagZilla

To me, beanbag chairs and lava lamps are like yin and yang. Both lava lamps and beanbag chairs are the icons of the 1970's and were brought back to life again in the 1990's. The spheric form of both the beanbag and the lava within the lava lamp take on a peaceful, easy going feeling that makes them both prominently associated with the hippie movement.

The Armchair by Charles Rennie Mackintosh by comparison is a chair and functions the same as the bean bag; however, this chair has the typical chair form: four legs, seat, and back. A bean bag chair's only structure is it's insides which conform to the position of the person sitting. Also, rather than sitting at about 30" off the ground, on a bean bag chair you are closer to the ground. Aside from form/structure these chairs were created in different countries, time periods and serve different purposes. The armchair, created in Scotland, was designed in the early 1900's while the bean bag chair is much younger, being designed in the mid 1900's. The bean bag chair serves as seating for an informal social event, while the armchair is more formal and probably is used at a dining table.

1 comment:

Henry said...

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