The '70s Bean Bag Chair: For Serious Rec Room Lounging

Culture | November 7, 2018

Bean bag chairs scanned from the Sears Catalog. Source: Pinterest

Bean bag chairs were standard furniture during the 1970s, and can still be found in many a rec room to this day. 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, bean bag chairs were the most comfortable and stylish things we owned. Whether in our college dorms or basement apartments, we enjoyed hanging out in bean bag chairs ... not to mention, they were the perfect height for our milk crate end tables.

These casual furniture mainstays 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 bodies, but our changing lifestyle as well. 

Bean Bag Chairs Were Designed By Italians

Bean bag 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 Creators Of Bean Bags Thought They'd Appeal To Hippies

The trio re-made the chairs out of inexpensive materials, specifically to appeal to the counter-culture customer. 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.

How Many Beans Are In A Bean Bag Chair?

Bean bag chairs scanned from the Sears Catalog. Source: Pinterest

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!

The Bean Bag Chairs Return

Source: Wayfair.com

Today, bean bag chairs are making 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. 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.

Tags: A Brief History Of... | Beanbag Chairs | The 1960s | The 1970s

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Rebeka Knott


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.