Jul 19, 2009

Ann Tancio

Product Review: SumoSac Sultan Beanbag Chair

I think Jim Gaffigan said it best when it comes to beanbag chairs. In his King Baby special, Gaffigan imagines the pitch meeting for the venerable product.

“Hey you know how people love sitting on beans?”

“Um, not really, but go ahead.”

“Well, it’d be a big bag filled with beans, and we’d add vinyl, so when you were wearing shorts, it would stick to your legs.”

“Do you even work here?”

In my mind, the beanbag chair is a must-have piece of furniture … if you’re 11. Beyond that, you’re guaranteed to look ridiculous sitting in one. It doesn’t take long sitting in a beanbag chair before all the beans will somehow have shifted from underneath your butt, and the only thing separating you from the hard ground is a thin piece of vinyl. And you’re definitely stuck there.

But, with all that said, I’m pretty impressed with the Sumo beanbag chairs. Consider the Sumo the king of the beanbag kingdom. It’s not really fair to all the other beanbag chars to even use that name for these, as there are no beans and no vinyl involved.

Instead, you get shredded polyurethane foam packed inside, resulting in an extremely comfortable sit that’s sure to induce sleepiness if you stay too long. Sumo offers six different designs and sizes, as well as pet beds.

My SumoSac Sultan is the second largest available, measuring 54 x 54 x 42 inches, and the size allows for maximum lounging, which seems rather essential for a product like this. Sure, you can sit upright in it, but why would you want to?

The Sultan’s cover is made of a stylish microsuede, which ensures that it’s easy to clean and attractive enough to accompany your regular living room or bedroom furniture — for the most part. While it’s light years ahead of those old vinyl blobs, the SumoSac still has a tendency to look like a big shapeless mass, especially after someone’s been sitting in it. Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to fluff it back up. Picking it up and shaking it easily redistributes the foam inside.

Make no mistake, the SumoSac needs to be used in a casual environment to not look out of place, but if you’ve got the right kind of room for one, it’ll probably be the most coveted chair in it.

The best part about the Sumo chairs is the durability — the polyurethane filling is basically memory foam, and doesn’t have a tendency to decompress or lose shape over time. I haven’t noticed any loss of density in the filling in my chair, and I don’t see any reason why I should in the future.

Sumo chairs are available in a variety of colors. The larger ones, such as the Sultan, come in black, khaki, red, and brown, but the smaller chairs include everything from hot pink to lime green. They’ll definitely set you back a few more dollars than the typical beanbag chair, but the Sumo certainly isn’t a typical beanbag chair.

Jim Gaffigan says, “Has anyone ever sat in a beanbag chair and thought, ‘This was a good decision’?” If they’re sitting in a SumoSac, the answer is probably yes.

The SumoSac Sultan and the rest of the Sumo line are available at Sumo’s website.

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