A little while back, I was contacted by the guys at Sumo asking if I’d like to review one of their Omni beanbag chairs. It’s not something I do a lot of, and I certainly don’t want to turn my site into a big ad for anything anyone offers to send me, but the guys at Sumo had also supplied a load of beanbags to the dConstruct conference down in Brighton, so I thought I’d give them a go.
The Omni is more akin to an enormous over-stuffed teabag than a regular beanbag. When you sit in it you do feel like you’re sat on a bit of furniture, rather than just basically sat on the floor with a bit of support. It seems to retain a large amount of air as you sit on it, so it’s quite supportive as these things go. Sumo claim there are 10 different ways of sitting on the thing – I’m not sure if I buy that, but there’s at least three that don’t involve you ending up with your feet higher than your head. At any rate, we had ourselves bent over with laughter trying to work them all out, so it was good from that point of view.
I opted for the brown from a reasonably garish selection of colours (I guess you don’t usually have a beanbag in a formal room, so the colours probably work for them). The Omni is made from fairly tough rip-proof nylon and has pretty tough stitching. I wasn’t sure if the nylon was going to be a bit too synthetic for a living room setting, but it’s fine. I managed to drip some red wine on it and it just wiped clean.
Suitability for eating cheese
Of course the acid test for any piece of furniture is its suitability as a place to sit and eat cheese. I’m happy to report that the Omni faired well, with only minor caveats.
Firstly, even in its tallest position, the Omni can be quite low to sit on. That’s not really a problem (and you’re certainly not close to the floor) except that it’s difficult to sit down in it gracefully. If you had, for instance, a small side plate with a selection of cheeses, perhaps some fruit and a few biscuits, you’d need to be very careful not to lose the biscuits as you sat down. There’s nothing worse than ending up with a fine selection of cheeses in your lap.
Secondly, once sat down (and you can sit comfortably on one of these for a long time – at least long enough to watch Dirty Dancing, although perhaps not Dances with Wolves) it’s difficult to regain your seating position once you’ve stood up. It seems to be the case that between sittings you need to pick the Omni up and give it a good shake to reset it before attempting to sit again. This could be a problem, if, for example, you fancied a touch more Barkham Blue, but it was just out of reach.
The third thing is this – not all attempts at sitting are 100% successful. Get your descent just right and you’ll be sat really comfortably for hours. Get it wrong, and you could well go over backwards. (Stop laughing at the back.) If there’s one thing that’s worse than cheese in your lap, it’s cheese cascading back into your face as you fall.
On the whole though, I’m really pleased with the Omni as a piece of occasional furniture. It’s light, so can be picked up and dumped out of the way when not in use, and is genuinely comfortable to sit in when you’ve got people round and the sofas are full. Cheesing issues aside, it gets a thumbs up from me.