Comfort evolved: A more functional Sacco

We have taken a 50-year old artefact and infused it with modern elements to fit an Asian lifestyle.

Imran Othman of CoolWares Lab

Bean bag? The origins

"In an era characterised by the hippie culture, apartment sharing and student demonstrations, the thirty-something designers created a non-poltrona (non-chair) and thus launched an attack on good bourgeois taste." These designers were Piero Gatti, Cesare Paolini and Franco Teodoro who created the iconic bean bag chair Sacco in Italy of 1968.

A large leather bag, filled with polystyrene beads, the object is an anatomic chair whose shape is set by the user. Its design was driven by a need to utilise new post-war production materials and technology to create affordable goods that appealed to contemporary consumers. Sacco was the first ‘shapeless chair’ successfully put to production, led by industrial design leader Zanotta.

Top 10: ‘Design in Singapore’

This year, in celebration of its 50th anniversary, Sacco - through W. Atelier - ran a design showcase in Singapore, calling designers to rethink Sacco to elevate the original design in both creative and practical ways.

CoolWares Lab’s Chief Maker Imran Othman took a spot among the ten final designs shortlisted by Zanotta. He explains that his ‘Design in Singapore’ as a concept revolves around living in a fast-paced competitive urban environment - such as present day Singapore - and seeing time as a valuable asset for self-improvement.

While the original Sacco was targeted at “the lax, hippie community and their non-conformist households”, Imran’s interpretation of the bean bag turned it into a more ubiquitous item that would organically fit in any home or office. The addition of a sleek functional table to a casual seating transforms the comfortable Sacco chair into a productive workstation, encouraging its users to make the most of their time, even when sitting back and relaxing.

Challenge of production

Imran shares that possibly the most challenging part of product development is prototyping, transferring what appears full on paper into physical reality. Prototyping requires a detailed plan, for it is ordinarily a successive series of reiterative production attempts. While the primary goal is to make the concept work, time is a major concern. The production success to a large extent hinges on the team’s capacity to produce a working prototype on a timely basis.

With many products, it is often most cost effective to produce in a location which supplies materials and labour at competitive rates, such as China, Indonesia or Malaysia. However, producing offshore requires additional investments in the form of travel and product transportation expenses.

With Sacco, Ivy Seah from Im-space Pte Ltd came forward to help Imran fulfil his design, building it up within a month’s time.

Talk to Imran at imranothman@gmail.com if you are looking to bring your creative idea to life.

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