Primer Magazine

Aug 1, 2009

Ann Tancio

The Bean Bag Grows Up


Forget that crusty, flat bean bag chair you’ve kept since Junior High.  The future of the bean bag is here and it will never go flat and never smell like farts again. If Craftsman made bean bags, this would be it.

Coming up on twenty-six years old, I’m always looking for ways to reclaim my dissipating youth, be it by drinking Slurpees out of novelty hologram cups or wearing Ghostbuster t-shirts to the office on Casual Friday.  With that mindset, when I heard of a chair that purported to be the newest incarnation of the bean bag chair, a new and improved version that wouldn’t be an eyesore or an embarrassment, I was intrigued.  Forget expensive recliners that fill the entire cubby I call a living room or Ikea chairs with names that are difficult to pronounce.  Forget chairs mom would approve of for the dining room, I want something fun to watch movies and play video games in.

Enter SumoLounge, a company that has an extensive line of bean bag inspired chairs that seek to update the old and busted design into the new hotness.  SumoLounge asked if I’d give one a try, and I opted for the Sumo Omni, the design that is closest to a traditional bean bag chair.  When the gigantic box arrived I first thought I had been delivered a refrigerator by mistake, though as I cut my way through the packaging I was greeted with an enormous, amorphous black pillow.  The Sumo Omni is nothing if not gigantic, measuring 4 1/2 feet by 5 1/2 feet which is room enough for many girls to just curl up on and go to sleep.  As a manly man, I wouldn’t recommend attempting to sleep on it as the fetal position isn’t how most dudes like to sleep.  Anyway, the website had teased me with the variety of ways I could use the bean bag, though I really could have used a guide.  To date, I’ve really only found five or six positions for the bag that I find really comfortable, but I’m not the most imaginative when it comes to bean bag chairs.


Copying what I saw on the website, I put the bag down so the longest edge was on the ground and the bag was standing up then plopped down in the middle.  The chair shifted underneath my weight, forming itself into a surprisingly sturdy seat complete with a solid back to lean against.  It took some butt wiggling, but within a few seconds I had the chair how I wanted it and was comfortable.  Not content to just settle down with one arrangement for the rest of my life, I flipped it around a few different ways and found varying levels of comfort.  I made a high chair, which wasn’t my favorite, and I really liked sitting on the floor but using the bag as a nice thing to lean back against.  Just plopping down into the bag can, with some shifting, results in a comfortable place to watch long movies after just a few seconds.

The great thing about a bean bag like this is you can stow it away and pull it out when you need some extra seating when your friends come over.

If there is a drawback, it’s a minor one – shifting things around until you find exactly what works.  My dog, for one, hates the Sumo Omni.  Every time he boards it thinking its a big pillow the bag shifts beneath him, never letting him settle down into it before it changes again.  Though on the few occasions when he does manage to lay on it for an extended period of time – I don’t sweat it.  The rip-proof nylon shell doesn’t give underneath his claws, which is more than I can say for my skin, and the material wipes clean in seconds.  What makes the Sumo different from the older generation of bean bag chairs is the foam inside.  Previous machinations used what seemed to be styrofoam or whatever, which meant that once you smashed it, it stayed smashed.  This new, “space age” material might not be straight out of the Jetsons, but after several weeks of butts pounding down on it, the chair is as strong as ever, creates firm seats, and shows no signs of deflating.  If you’re going to drop this kind of cash on a bean bag chair, that’s a good quality.


The Sumo Omni may not be the chair for every living room, but it is a fun and versatile chair that everyone loves to try out.  The material stays clean and fresh, so it doesn’t start looking like crap from your bedroom circa 1991.  What you end up with is a functional modern chair that can serve many roles, from giant pillow to gamer chair to sexual aide.  Ok, so I haven’t tried that last one yet and hope no one else has, though with potentially dozens of positions and an easy to clean surface, it’s something that pops into your head.  That awkwardness aside, the bottom line here is that this is an updated bean bag chair that you can plop down in any room in your house without it making you look immature or out of touch.  The bean bag has grown up into the future and that’s pretty cool.

The Sumo Omni Lounge is available from for $149.

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