Review: “Sumo Sway Couple” Bean Bag Chair

Sumo Sway Bean Bag Lounge Chair SUMMARY: A few months ago, I got an email from a product rep at Sumo Bean Bag Chairs asking if I’d like to review one of their newest products: the Sumo Sway Couple. I’d had a favorable encounter with their first product, the omni bean bag chair a few years ago, so I said, “Sure!”

I don’t have enough space in my living room for another chair, so my friend Sid at Ceaser Photography agreed to be host for the chair in his studio space. Good thing, too, because the Sway Couple chair–so-named because it’s intended to seat two people–is as wide as a healthily-proportioned arm chair. I had to take it out of the box and stuff it in the back of my Volkswagen GTI, where it just barely fit.

Design

Basic Design Compared to Sumo’s other bean bag chair products, the Sway Couple is a more “sculpted” chair, with a seat and back molded in. It’s like a boneless arm chair, holding its shape because of the fiber stuffing (not beads) and the stitching of the bag. The upholstery is also different; instead of the slick textured plastic of the Omni, the Sway Couple comes in corduroy and microsuede.

Microsuede DetailBottom seaming and black bottom fabricSide Pocket

Sid and his girlfriend Sara thought that brown microsuede (picture: left) would look good in the studio, so that’s what we got. On the bottom of the chair is a tougher black fabric (picture: middle) designed to take the wear-and-tear of dragging the couch around, and there’s a side pocket too with the “Sumo” branding prominently displayed on it (picture: right). My overall impression was very positive, and I felt a twinge of regret at not having room for it at home.

How It Sits

Sumo Sway CoupleAs luck would have it, I had to fly to California for a long project, and didn’t get a good chance to do a proper sitting until a few weeks ago. Unlike the Omni chair, which requires you to fluff it into approximately the right shape to sit on first, the Sway Couple is ready for sitting at a moment’s notice. Once I got back from my trip, I headed up to the studio with my camera to take some shots and gave it a test sitting. After about 30 minutes I woke up and realized I’d fallen asleep in it. It’s a VERY comfortable chair, and in the winter I can imagine it being a nice place to snooze in near a fireplace. Because it’s a “shaped” bag chair, it actually has a back you can rest against. The chair does a great job of holding you in place, whereas in other bean bag-style chairs you have to spend a lot of time constantly re-adjusting your position to stay in the sweet spot of being comfortable and falling too far backwards. Not so with the Sumo Sway chair.

Sid Ceaser and the Seat As I mentioned before, it’s the size of a generously-proportioned arm chair; while it can sit two people, it’s still a size where a generously-proportioned dude like myself would feel perfectly justified in hogging the entire thing to himself. Here you can see Sid enjoying the latest issue of American Photo. Sid thought it would be an AWESOME gaming chair, and I would agree…I could see having two of these in a large dedicated game room in front of a 60″ plasma. It’s also high enough that getting out of it isn’t as much of a chore as I found other bean bag chairs; in those cases, I’ve found that rolling out of them is easier on the knees. With the Sway Couple, though, you can do one or two good bounces with your butt and sort of spring out of it.

Sumo Sway CoupleIt’s a remarkably firm chair. The insides, which you can see if you unzip the bottom, is made of a dense artificial spun fiber (?) that’s packed in there well. It makes the entire chair’s surface very buoyant as if it was filled with air, but without the confidence-eroding lightness that an inflatable chair would have. As a result, the chair also maintains its molded lines, which I found very pleasing. Functionally speaking, the dense fiber fill also makes the chair very supportive. I (sadly) weigh well over 200 pounds and at no point did I feel that the chair was going to have a problem supporting me by tipping over or shearing in one direction or another. It’s pretty cool. It isn’t as stable as a traditional couch or chair, of course, so I wouldn’t want to eat a TV dinner while sitting on it. But for lounging around and chilling out? Pretty darn ideal. However, since the fiber fill acts as a kind of insulation, the chair can get pretty warm as with any padded chair. Since there’s more padding holding you in, I have noticed that I get warmer faster in this chair than a regular armchair.

Conclusions

Sway Couple Studio I’ve had a couple of naps in the chair since writing down my initial impressions, and I still like it. Maybe the one drawback in this regard is that micro-suede tends to vary in its reflectiveness depending on the direction you brush it. If you like your furniture to look pristine all the time, that might bug you. I imagine the corduroy version wouldn’t have this “problem”, though I haven’t seen a sample.

Note that this is a larger piece of furniture than you might think…it’s not like the underwhelming bean bag chairs of the 70s and 80s. You should plan the placement of this chair accordingly, allowing for more space to the sides and front. The seating position is also lower than most traditional furniture, so that’s something to consider.

If the Sway Couple is too much chair for your space, it also comes in single person size (the Sway Single). Both chairs are available in a number of colors. When I redo my basement office, maybe I should get rid of the couch down there and replace it with one of each of the Swap chairs. I like how it holds its shape compared to other oversized beanbag chairs, and it’s easy to drag around.

Update October 19, 2010 I really love this chair.

Where to Get It

From Sumo Urban Lounge Gear
.. microsuede: US$279.00
.. corduroy: US$299.00

6 Comments

  1. Karen Tiede 7 years ago

    I imagine the corduroy version wouldn’t have this “problem”, though I haven’t seen a sample.

    Corduroy is a “napped” fabric, like microsuede, so it’s just as likely to have light patches and dark patches, depending on the angle of light and how the last person to sit on the chair left it.

  2. Darice de Cuba 7 years ago

    I’m sitting here with this rainy weather and resisting going to bed when I see this post. This chair looks like heaven right now. I never tried a sumo bean bag chair, here in the Netherlands they only sell the Sumo Gamer online.

    I think your post just inspired me to replace the one chair I have in my room.

  3. Kevin 7 years ago

    Wow! I really like the look of it!

    But I can’t find the same colour on the site, is it the microsuede > third color?

  4. Author
    Dave Seah 7 years ago

    Karen: Neat, thanks for the insight! My only tactile experience with corduroy has been with pants and blazers.

    Darice: That’s too bad on the limited Netherlands options. I’m wondering if this chair would be cat-resistant because while it’s large and clawable, it might be just unstable enough to discourage the cats from really getting into it.

    Kevin: I believe it’s the “funky brown” color. I was just looking at this blog post on my desktop computer and realized how bad the color processing on the photos came out…that’s what I get for doing it on the laptop, which is not a good screen (older Macbook Pro). I’ll have to reprocess them to take out all the red.

    • Emily 7 years ago

      So have you done a test run with two people sitting in it? :)

  5. leila dashtara 7 years ago

    thanks for that great review. i am 38 and just diagnosed with a type of rheumatoid arthritis which affects less then 1% of the population and also with crohns at the same time which makes the condition spiral out. so all this to say, i was checking out the sway and checked out your article and am convinced. sounds like heaven to be able to have something comfortable to sit in, as it has become a challenge lately. i am sold! thanks.

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I believe we all benefit when we respectfully share our perspectives on common experiences. My house rules are "please be respectful of divergent views" and "enjoy the flow of ideas!"

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