Feb 22, 2006

Ann Tancio



Last month Sumo, a Canadian company that sells a modern, funky, high-quality line of bean bags & soft furniture over the Internet at, contacted me about whether I’d be interested in doing a review of their one of their products. It seems that the Sumo folks are big blog readers and supporters and their target market is right in line with the demographics of the blogosphere.


According to their president, whose passion and pride in his products is obvious, Sumo’s Omni chair is the most comfortable chair in the world. Taking him at his word on the comfort – which is obviously a fairly subjective – I wondered whether the Sumo product line was “kid friendly.”


What better challenge to a bean bag chairs durability could there be than a few weeks of pounding by three rambunctious boys? Short of hitching the chair to the bumper of an SUV and going for an off-road drive, I couldn’t think of one. I wrote back proposing this torture test, warning Sumo that when the bag exploded, turning my living room into an artificial winter wonderland of bean bag stuffing, they’d probably wish they never made the offer as I would be writing about the results – good, bad, or indifferent.


To my surprise the folks at Sumo welcomed the challenge and express shipped out one of their Omni chairs. I pitied them…


I guess I’m old enough to remember the 70’s – though I was but a young child – where it seemed that owning a shag-carpeted conversion van; the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever; bell-bottom jeans; and a bean bag chairs were rights of passage for all baby boomer families. Those 70’s-era bean bags were notorious for their gaudy shapes and colors as well as their propensity to leak Styrofoam beans. The Omni didn’t look like any bean bag I remember from my youth. Here’s what it looks like out of the box…


What exactly were the folks at Sumo smoking when they designed this?


Fortunately the visual disconnect one experiences when first encountering the Omni is short-lived. What you’re presented with is an origami-like, piece of furniture that you mold and shape into whatever form you desire. Here are a couple possibilities (underwear models not included):


The possibilities are essentially endless, which is part of the charm of the Sumo.
So was the Omni popular with the kids? Just a little bit…


So how do Sumo’s products fare on the durability scale?


Frankly I’m a bit disappointed to report that, despite their best efforts, my three sons could not bruise, scuff, rip, tear, cut, nor otherwise destroy the Omni, though it wasn’t for a lack of trying…


I can report that the Omni makes an excellent landing pad when jumping off couches or swinging from chandeliers (OK, the latter is pure speculation) or when you just need a safe place to do a little child tossing. The kids love it!


What I can tell you is that the chairs (modestly priced from $149 to $179) make a versatile and invaluable addition to any family room. Sumo also makes a matching ottoman which looks like a winner as well. Unfortunately for us grey Omni chair clashes with the decor of the new basement (which is nearing completion), but the chair is such a hit with the kids that we’ve little choice but to order a couple more in a different color – something I suspect was part of Sumo’s evil plan all along… Bastards.

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