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Beanbag Chairs were Legit Furniture in the Groovy Era!

Culture | November 7, 2018

Denver Post Archives DEC 8 1973, DEC 28 73, FEB 6 1974 Brend Skelton Relaxes In Bean-Bag Chair During Reading Marathon Credit: Denver Post (Denver Post via Getty Images)

Beanbag Chairs! When we think of furniture from the groovy era, beanbag chairs immediately come to mind. These casual furniture icons came on the scene in the late 1960s and early '70s. Made out of leather, and later, corduroy, denim and Naugahyde, they were filled with polystyrene beads or “beans.”  These cheap seats not only fit our lives but fit our groovy lifestyle too!  

Beanbag chairs were groovy and conformed to every shape and size of user… even more than 1 person on occasion!

In the era of non-conformity, bean bag chairs conformed to each user allowing various positions of sitting and reclining. Let’s face it, in our groovy pads filled with cinder-block and wood plank shelving, re-purposed lawn furniture and other hand-me-downs, beanbag chairs were the most comfortable and stylish things we owned. Whether in our college dorms or basement apartments, we enjoyed hanging out in beanbag chairs...not to mention, they were the perfect height for our milk crate end tables!

Beanbag chairs were a staple piece of furniture in any hip and modern home back in the day! They also made great portable seats for all the groovy lawn concerts and yard parties we used to go to.

Beanbag chairs were the brainchild of Italian designers, Cesare Paolini, Piero Gatti and Franco Teodoro. The Italian leather clad Sacco, as it was known, debuted in 1969 and was immediately dubbed, “appealing, comfortable and unique; Italian modernism at its best.”  However, at that time, there was no market in Europe for the non-traditional chair, making the designers look to the U.S.A. The trio re-made the chairs out of inexpensive materials, specifically to appeal to the counter-culture of the groovy era. Paolini, Gatti and Teodoro reasoned that “hippies were known to be very relaxed and not interested in conforming to the norms of previous generations.”  Their critics, in 1969, accused Paolini and company of an “attack on good bourgeois taste,”  but the joining of hippie and beanbag chairs is the stuff groovy legends are made of.

Everything old becomes new again… or so the saying goes! Beanbag chairs are case and point for this argument!

Today, beanbag chairs are making something of a comeback especially with younger kids, who don’t really appreciate their history, as well as adults who do and have aches, pains and specific sitting needs, which is perfect for those of us who help make groovy history. Also, today, all those “beans” are made from recycled materials. The construction has also improved. The seams of the spherical shape beanbags are reinforced and the beans are now contained in an inner bag.  

Every groovy guy or girl who ever had a beanbag chair “explosion” will appreciate this development of the new wave version.

By the way, it takes approximately 1.75 kilograms to 2.25 kilograms of beans to fill an adult beanbag chair, depending on the size, and about 1 kilogram for a kid’s beanbag chair. If you’re thinking about redoing your groovy digs or cruising to a concert or a camp out in your psychedelic microbus, you can’t go wrong by including a couple of new again bean bag chairs! 

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Rebeka Knott

Writer

Rebeka grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s and has always subscribed to the theory that a positive attitude will take you far! She is a wife and mother of 3 with a fun-loving spirit, believing that family and relationships are invaluable.