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Icons at The Conran Shop: Sacco Anatomical Easy Chair

As we celebrate the launch of the Sacco Anatomical Easy Chair in three Conran Shop-exclusive colourways, we explore the history of the remarkable design, the celebrated pioneer for the now-familiar 'bean bag' chair.

An Italian icon, the Sacco Anatomical Easy Chair was conceptualised by trio Piero Gatti, Cesare Paolini and Franco Teodoro in 1968. Exhibiting a strength of ideas and a bold, memorable form, the chair has since become a hallmark of the Italian Modernist movement and is renowned as such to this day.

The trio's brief was to create a 'shapeless chair' that was simultaneously design-led and universal, easily adapted to all bodies and any seating position, and was suitable for indoor and outdoor use, all whilst displaying exceptional craftsmanship under a modernist form.

The Italian design trio Gatti, Paolini and Teodoro

Thus the Sacco was conceived, in response to these requirements and befitting the Italian Modernist style, uniting high-end design with casual living. The purpose of its 'anatomical' nature is that the shape of the chair is set by the user, remaining adaptable to their needs in a variety of settings; the perfect chair for the ever-changing demands of a modern home.

collage sacco_nuovo
Sacco throughout the ages
Aurelio Zanotta at home on the ergonomic chair

Embodying its era's aesthetic values, the 1960s design features a gratifying tapered form that is at once effortlessly simple and boundlessly versatile. Available in an array of bold and bright hues, the Sacco is adaptable yet refined. As characterised by the Vitra Design Museum, in an era of "hippie culture, apartment sharing and student demonstrations, the thirty-something designers created a nonpoltrona (non-chair) and thus launched an attack on good bourgeois taste."

The Sacco's signature polystyrene filling
The design remains unchanged from its original 1968 conception

Although not the first amorphous chair designed in Italy, the Sacco was the first that could successfully hold its shape thanks to its hardy fabric exterior and intricate stitching. Polystyrene was a relatively new material on the post-war mass-manufacturing market. Thus the design trio utilised its unique properties to fill the chair with highly resistant polystyrene balls, giving shape and structure to the relaxed form. When Aurelio Zanotta received the first pictures of the Sacco's proposed design, he was eager to support its development, and Zanotta has remained the chair's dedicated manufacturer ever since.

Iterations of the Sacco in a rainbow of complementary hues

Exhibited at prestigious global institutions such as New York's Museum of Modern Art and the Vitra Design Museum in Germany, the Sacco is well worthy of its 'icon' status. More recently bestowed the coveted Compasso d'Oro Lifetime Achievement Award, it is hailed by Campbell Thompson, Head of Furniture and Lighting at The Conran Shop, as "the innovative founding father of anatomical seating."

Discover our exclusive 2021 Sacco colours here.