Who invented the beanbag?

When was the bean bag invented?

The history of the bean bag is a complicated question as bean bags have been used in multiple ways and functions throughout history. However if you're wondering when the first bean bag was created then you can even trace them back to ancient Egypt. The first bean bag wasn't quite as we know it today in furniture form and was instead much smaller with a completely different function. 

According to one historian, bean bags were first invented by the ancient Egyptians and were used by some of the world’s first jugglers to master their skills. The first bean bags were small, round and made of leather and the Egyptians would fill them with dried beans or pebbles.

From then bean bags were used similarly by the Native Americans to play games such as 'bean bag toss' which is still played today! Even Ancient China used bean bags to assist in teaching tai-chi.


The first bean bag chair was designed by William Roger Dean. Roger Dean worked for Royal College of Art, is an English artist, designer and publisher. His first designs the bean bag chair named 'sea urchin chair' and he filed a patent for it in 1968. It didn't actually contain bean bag beads though and instead was filled with blocks of foam as the cushioning material. Illustrations by Roger Dean below show the shape of his 'sea urchin chair'.



In Italy another bean bag chair design named the 'Sacco' was designed. The trio of designers including Cesare Paolini, Piero Gatti, and Franco Teodoro were commissioned to create the piece by Zanotta Design which was made from Leather and shaped in a Pear like form. The bean bag was designed to be aesthetically appealing, comfortable and unique. The target market of the chair was the people belonging to or identifying with the hippie culture and non-conforming house holds as the piece was suppose to be 'anti-design'. 

Piero Gatti in an interview said:

“Many of us were interested in designing objects which were as flexible as possible which could adapt to different situations …different physical structures. So we said think of a chair that will allow for these functions. We began to think about a material that would allow for this adaptability, both for the body and its positions: like snow, you throw yourself into it and make an imprint in the fresh snow, or a fluid like water”.

zanotta the Sacco bean bag

The 'Sacco' bean bag chair in an advert by Zanotta Design

The 1970s

From the 1970s bean bags reached the height of popularity and were being mass produced by factories. The design style was still the Sacco shape but many were being produced by mass manufacturers with different fabrics and more affordable fabrics rather than leather. 

Over the next few decades the bean bag chair went in and out of popularity and the shapes changed over time.

Today bean bags are still as popular as ever and can be found in many homes. Most people like them due to their flexibility in the home as well as comfort. You can now find them in sizes for kids, adults and teens in a wide selection of materials. We make our beanbags from superior cotton cords that are hand knitted. You can find our bean bag range here!