Vintage bean bags & bean bag chairs: The retro 70s casual seating fad

Sinkably Soft bean bags 1971

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Vintage bean bags were so popular in the 70s because they were fun and super comfy – filled with pillowy-soft polystyrene beads. Here’s a look back at dozens of old-fashioned styles and retro fabrics that were available back in the day.

For new ways to sit, try bean bag chairs

Article by Mary Bryson – The Des Moines Register (Des Moines, Iowa) Jan 17, 1971

You’ll sit down and be comfortable at home if one imaginative young designer who presented his products at the recent International Home Furnishings Market in Chicago has anything to say about it.

Aaron Donner, the man who brought the beanbag chair to America, says chairs are now being designed for new ways of sitting.

Vintage bean bag chairs for kids

“Time was when a young lady sat primly upright with her feet planted firmly on the floor. No longer. Now she sprawls, lounges, curls up and sits with her feet stretched out. So does her brother and her father and her mother and her aunts,” he explains.

Donner feels it’s time for all chairs to be designed for this type of sitting in low and loungy comfort.

The designer, who saw the original beanbag in Italy a couple of years ago, asked a factory in Richmond, Virginia, to make up a chair resembling the ashtrays filled with BB gun pellets that had been on the market for years. Instead of BB pellets, he used expandable polystyrene pellets that were softer and lighter.

Pillowy bean bag chairs from the 1970s

The chair is not only extremely comfortable, it’s light and easy to drag around, and since it was introduced a year and a half ago by Craft Associates, it’s been a success. Several other companies have added bean bag designs to their lines.

Though many of the interior designers of the model rooms for the market displays combined traditional and modern furniture, Donner feels the more extreme modern, such as the beanbag and many of the foam and plastic items, belong in strictly contemporary settings.

Reto '70s bean bags for adults (2)

“They don’t combine well with traditional, which is by its nature more formal and less relaxed. However, they’re fine with Scandinavian styles, and they’re a good foil for steel and glass,” he says.

Donner himself lives smack in the middle of Manhattan in an old remodeled Federal period house built in 1823. However, he’s furnished it with modern designs, because he feels they go with his informal way of life.

A student of industrial design, Donner once designed traditional furniture for Lane Co., but has been with Craft Associates for 12 years.

There’s a surprising variety to the simple design of his beanbags. One is big enough to be a chaise lounge, and there are two sizes of chairs.

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Above left: Aaron Donner, who helped popularize bean bags
Above left: Aaron Donner, who helped popularize bean bags

Vintage Farrah Fawcett pinup vintage bean bags (1978)

How to get Farrah Fawcett's famous long feathered hairstyle from the '70s

Vintage 1978 Farrah Fawcett pinup bean bags

Bobby Sherman & Wes Stern on shiny red beanbags in Getting Together (1971)

Bobby Sherman and Wes Stern on bean bags in Getting Together (1971)

'Here Come the Brides' theme song, lyrics & what the actors thought of the show (1968-1970)

Vintage pop culture product & TV show beanbags

Pepsi-Cola, Fat Albert, The Fonz, Spider-Man, Star Trek

Branded bean bags from 1977

Favorite friends – Printed character bean bags for kids

Raggedy Ann & Andy, Vinnie Barbarino (John Travolta’s character on Welcome Back, Kotter), Batman, Wonder Woman, The Fonz (From Happy Days), and Mickey Mouse

Famous characters on retro beanbags from the seventies

Detailed silk-screened prints of cartoon personalities

Pluto (Disney), Batman, Donald Duck, Raggedy Ann

Vintage character bean bags from 1977

1970s Sears Catalog print and Red Bandana print cotton bean bags

Bean bag (B) is a detailed reproduction of early Sears catalog pages, with black print on off-white background. Bean bag (C) is black and white design on red.

COVERS: 100% cotton duck treated with Scotchgard Brand Fabric Protector. Double-stitched seams and locked, double zippers provide extra strength. Bandana-print bag (C) has an attached carrying handle. Each 34.95.

Budweiser and Patchwork print vinyl Bags

Budweiser print in red, white and blue. Patchwork-look bag is a multicolor print.

COVERS: Expanded, fabric-supported vinyl. Double-stitched seams and locked, double zippers for extra strength.

ORDERING INFORMATION: Because of State Laws, “Budweiser” bean bag is not for sale in Virginia. Fake Fur style, acrylic pile Bag. Choose from 4 solid colors.

COVER: Acrylic pile on rubberized cotton back. Double-stitched seams and locked, double zippers provide extra strength.

Sears Catalog Red Bandana Budweiser Patchwork print vintag bean bags

Vintage bean bags from 1974

Junior size denim & NFL bean bags for kids

Even at this low price, a bean bag that wipes clean with a damp cloth because it has an easy-care supported vinyl cover

Junior size denim and NFL bean bags for kids

Fake fur bean bags

These vintage bean bags offered a cover with thick acrylic pile on a cotton-bonded back

Vintage '70s fake fur bean bags for kids

Vintage acrylic pile-fake fur beanbags from the 1970s

Even adults loved bean bags in the ’70s

Vintage bean bag chairs for adults

Retro 1970s bean bag chairs

Filled with pillowy-soft polystyrene beads that shift when you do to give cradle-like comfort

MORE: 60+ fab 1960s chairs in mod & other oh-so-retro styles

Retro beanbags for adults and kids from 1972

Splashdown-style vinyl beanbags in 11 wet-look, solid colors

DIMENSIONS: Every bag has a big, 112-inch circumference

FILL: Each bag is filled with thousands of 100% expanded polystyrene beads that adjust to your position for comfort,

COVERS: Expanded, fabric-supported vinyl. Double-stitched seams and locked, double zippers provide extra strength.

COLORS, ORDERING INFORMATION: State color number 21—purple, 20—pink, 944—Ebony, 875—Jungle Grass bright, 27—white, 9—avocado, 19—pumpkin, 501—Lemon Yellow bright, 6—caramel, 640—Fiesta Red brilliant. Shipping weight 20 pounds – Each $29.95

Splashdown-style vinyl Bag. Choose from 11 wet-look, solid colors.

Vintage vinyl-covered bean bags in 3 sizes

Retro vinyl-covered bean bags

Large bean bags with 112-inch circumference

Love vintage bean bags? See some huge soft chairs you can get today here!

Vintage shiny bean bag colors from '77

Donut-style bean bag swivel chair & non-swivel chairs on bases

Our bean bag chairs have supportive bases that let you sit down and get up with greater ease.

These chairs also come with easy-care fabric-supported vinyl covers in choice of four bright colors – they also come in choice of swivel or non-swivel base.

Monopad. “Wet look” fabric-supported vinyl covered bean bags filled with hundreds of 100% polystyrene beads. Bags have 120-inch circumference, extra-strong double-stitched seams. Bags close with locked, double zippers.

Vintage beanbag chairs with supportive bases (1)

Vintage '70s toadstool ottomans & gull-wing chairs, in wet-look vinyl & plush

Old bean bag chairs on platforms

Bean bag rests on white, 33-inch diameter plastic saucer that is supported by a sturdy cellulose fiberboard base. 22-inch diameter base is covered in expanded-and-supported plastic .. matches bean bag. About 16 inches from floor. (Bag lifts out of base to be used alone.)

Fall 1973

Beanbag chair with base (2)

Big vintage bean bag chairs & matching hassocks

Big '70s bean bag chairs

Retro groovy bean bag chair groups and shaped coffee tables from the 70s

A mom hanging out in the bean bag chair back in the 1970s

DON’T MISS THESE: 70 vintage sofas from the swinging 70s

Mom hanging out in the bean bag chair back in the 1970s

Mod bean bag chair & table group: Available in 3 colors

These sets came in brown, sunflower yellow and jungle green bright.

Bean bag chair group - Sears catalog page from the late 1970s

Reto '70s bean bags for adults (1)

Fab wet-look vinyl-covered beanbags from the 70s

Retro-style bean bags from 1972

Retro bean bag chairs from 1971

Lightweight on-the-go soft furniture collection

Shiny ribbed vinyl bean bags, corduroy-look vinyl bean bags, fun-look bean bags (acrylic pile)

Retro ribbed bean bag chairs

SEE MORE! Funky 70s gull-wing chairs & toadstool ottomans, in wet-look vinyl & plush

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Comments on this story

One Response

  1. While they’re not the fad they used to be, bean bag chairs are still around. We had some as recently as the early 2000s, though at my age they’re hard to get into and out of. Pro tip: Watch your cat(s) around bean bag chairs, as cats sometimes like to use them as a litter box. :)

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