December 10, 2008 The march of technology and design has elevated the humble bean bag into a surprisingly versatile bit of furniture. Sumo's range of "urban lounge gear" now includes a stiff-walled, tiny-beaned maxi-pillow that can be moulded into several super-comfy positions from crashmat to loveseat to recliner couch. Sure, there's a learning curve - try to "ride the pony" without the proper preparation and you'll end up on the floor - but once mastered, this is one of the most outrageously awesome, buttock-coddling sitting experiences we've ever tried. Loz Blain is barely able to report on his road test of the Sumo Omni Chair due to extreme relaxation.
My lounge rooms have always included a bean bag - but I'll admit in recent years the traditional black slob blob has been more the domain of dogs and children than a serious seating option for the missus and I. Too small, to hard to get up out of, too malleable.
The Sumo Omni Chair arrived in an enormous plastic wrap, filled up and ready to go. It's a large rectangle shape, covered in stain-proof tough ballistic nylon and filled with micro-balls of polystyrene. Laid out on the floor, it's exceptionally comfy to lie on. I immediately fell asleep and missed a Gizmag deadline.
But lying down isn't where the Omni shines - it's designed to be propped up into an array of different shapes to offer a range of different seating positions. In fact, the Sumo website offers a bunch of instructional videos on how to use your bean bag. No kidding. Here's our favorite possies:
1) The couch: fluff it up, sit it on its short end, and sit down slowly right on top of it. The Omni rises up behind you as a back support you can drape your arms over. Great for drinking beer.
2) Ride the pony: sit the Omni on its short edge, straddle it and sit down slowly. Lean back and use the rear point as a headrest, or lean forward and make jokes about how phallic the front point looks. Also great for drinking beer.
3) The veg pedestal: sit the bag on its long edge and slowly put yourself in the center of it, supporting your head at one and and your feet at the other. This can be accomplished on your back, or if you're adventurous and patient, on your side. More of a wine drinking position, this one.
While all these positions are extraordinarily comfortable, it's important to make sure you approach them with caution and sit down slowly so the bag can settle into the right supportive structure. First-timers almost always go in too hard and end up on the floor, which makes the Omni as much an entertainment device as a bit of furniture. Set 'em up, watch 'em roll.
At the end of the day, the proof's in the pudding - whether it's just myself and my better half in the house, or there's guests around, everyone fights over who's next on the Omni. At USD$149 delivered from the Sumo website, it's pricey for a bean bag, but then it's versatile enough to get out from in front of the TV and use all over the house - try sitting at the dinner table with your old bean bag! We'd happily have five of these things and chuck the sofa out altogether.
Big thanks to our gorgeous model, 'Wallace', who demonstrates a range of seating positions in the photo gallery. Stay tuned for the "four seasons of Wallace" calendar, coming soon to a store near you.