Bean bag chair

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Sacco [1968], designed by Piero Gatti, Cesare Paolini and Franco Teodoro[1]

The Sacco chair, also called bean bag chair, is a large fabric bag, filled with polystyrene beads, designed by Piero Gatti, Cesare Paolini and Franco Teodoro. The product is an example of an anatomic chair,[1] as the shape of the object is set by the user.


Sacco was introduced in 1968 by three Italian designers: Piero Gatti, Cesare Paolini and Franco Teodoro.[1] The object was created in the Italian Modernism movement. Being a post war era phenomenon, Italian modernism’s design was highly inspired with new available technology. Post war technology allowed an increase in the processes of production, by introducing new materials such as polystyrene. The idea of mass-produced goods made within an inexpensive price range appealed to consumers. It therefore created the need for a revolution in the creative and manufacturing process. ‘The designer was an integral member of a process that included marketing as well as engineering’. The inspiration left by Corradino D’Ascano’s Vespa design for the Piaggio Corporation in 1946, added value to the essence of the designer. With successful designs, brands could sell more products, and therefore the identity of the designer played an important advertising role. Another important figure of the Italian modernism period was Gio Ponti. Inspired by modernism's art movements, Ponti created new forms of objects. His asymmetrically balanced designs freed the Italian objects form their classic representations. The designer promoted Italian designs on famous exhibitions called 'Milan Triennale': "These exhibitions, organized as early as the 1920s … were responsible for increasing the visibility of Italian design in an international setting". After becoming an editor of the Domus (magazine) in 1947, Ponti contributed to not only Italian design of that time, but also : “the human and creative element in modern industrial design as well as its practical, economic and social benefits."[2]

Piero Gatti, Cesare Paolini and Franco Teodoro, inspired by their designer predecessors, came up in 1968 with the design of Sacco the ‘shapeless chair’. Although it was not the first design of an amorphous chair in Italian history, Sacco was the first successful product created in partnership with Zanotta. The predecessor of the product had a major design flaw of not being able to sustain its form and therefore never reached production. Sacco picked up that flaw and with the use of leather for exterior and right placed stitching. It is worth mentioning that the use of leather was not coincidental as at that time the textile was an Italian national pride product.[2] The target user of the chair was the lax, hippie community and their non-conformist household. "In an era characterized by the hippie culture, apartment sharing and student demonstrations, the thirty-something designers created a nonpoltrona (non-chair) and thus launched an attack on good bourgeois taste."[1]

Sacco is part of the permanent collection of the most important museums of contemporary art throughout the world, such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Sacco was part of the 1972 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York Italy: The New Domestic Landscape - Achievements and Problems of Italian Design.



  • Bio 5 Ljubljana, 1973
  • Selected for the Compasso d'Oro Award, 1970
  • M.I.A.- Mostra Internazionale dell'Arredamento, Monza, 1968

Other bean bag chair products inspired by Sacco[edit]

Other designers have followed the "shapeless" chair design, creating a range of inspired products that take after Sacco.[3] Amongst many, the most successful contemporary model would be Jukka Setala’s Fatboy. The product launched in 2002 brought the Finnish designer global recognition. The new form of the bean bag chair has less stitching and a more geometrical take in the means of shape. It also has an EPS filling which is more durable than PVC.[4]


  • Paola Antonelli (Museum of Modern Art | MOMA), Sacco Chair | Object Lesson
  • Mel Byars, The Design Encyclopedia, New York, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1994
  • Emilio Ambasz [a cura di], Italy: The New Domestic Landscape - Achievements and Problems of Italian Design, New York, Museum Of Modern Art, 1972
  • Grace Lees-Maffei, Kjetil Fallan [editori], Made in Italy Rethinking a Century of Italian Design, London, Bloomsbury Academic, 2014
  • Bernhard E. Bürdek, Design Storia, Teoria e Pratica del Design del Prodotto, Roma, Gangemi Editore, 2008
  • Modern Chairs 1918-1970, London: Lund Humphries. 1971
  • Victor Papanek, Design for the Real World, New York: 1974
  • Moderne Klassiker, Mobel, die Geschichte machen, Hamburg, 1982
  • Kathryn B. Hiesinger and George H. Marcus III (eds.), Design Since 1945, Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1983
  • Fifty Chairs that Changed the World: Design Museum Fifty, London's Design Museum, London, ISBN 978-1840915402
  • Charlotte Fiell, Peter Fiell, Plastic dreams: synthetic visions in design, Carlton Books Ltd, 2010, ISBN 978-1906863081
  • Anne Bony, Design: History, Main Trends, Major Figures, Larousse/Chambers, 2005
  • Bernd Polster, Claudia Newman, Markus Schuler, The A-Z of Modern Design, Merrell Publishers Ltd, 2009, ISBN 978-1858945026
  • Domitilla Dardi, Il design in cento oggetti, Federico Motta Editore, Milano, 2008, ISBN 978-88-7179-586-7
  • Charles Boyce, Joseph T. Butler, Dictionary of Furniture, Simon and Schuster, New York, 2014, ISBN 9781628738407
  • Michael Tambini, The Look of the Century, DK Pub., 1999, ISBN 9780789446350


  1. ^ a b c d Vitra Design Museum. "Sacco". Retrieved 25 September 2014.
  2. ^ a b Raizman, David (2010). "Part V: Humanism and Luxury: International Modernism and Mass Culture after World War II (1945-1960)". In May, Susie (ed.). History of Modern Design Second Edition. Laurence King Publishing. pp. 256–306. ISBN 978-1-85669-694-4.
  3. ^ Griffiths, Sally (2 June 2009). "How to bag a beanbag chair". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 January 2014.
  4. ^ Fatboy (2002). "Fatboy original". Fatboy. Retrieved 16 October 2014.[permanent dead link]

External links[edit]