Written by Joanne Barrett
Nicola Webster owner of COAST New Zealand says, “In our product design we have drawn inspiration from the rewards and challenges of life by the sea – simple, relaxing and beautiful yet rugged and often unforgiving.”
In the 1970s it was considered very fashionable to ‘lounge’ on a bean bag and there weren’t too many living rooms that didn’t include at least one bean bag as part of the seating arrangement.
The first bean bag, known as a Sacco, was designed by Piero Gatti, Cesare Paolini and Franco Teodoro and produced by Italian company Zanotta in 1969. Deemed revolutionary in design at the time, the Sacco, a pear-shaped leather bag, was filled with Styrofoam beans, and it was the bean filling that inspired the name, ‘bean bag’.
Like most fashion, the bean bag fell from favour for a decade or more but with innovative modern design the bean bag has made a stellar comeback.
Unlike its 1970s counterpart, the modern bean bag, has come a long way since the original was launched 50 years ago. One company at the forefront of designing and producing the new bean bag is COAST New Zealand.
We spoke with Nicola to ask what makes its luxury bean bag collection fit so well with Kiwis’ love of outdoor living.
Nicola says, “When we launched COAST New Zealand in late 2003, just before the 2004 America’s Cup, we started out as a specialist supplier to super yachts. Now, more than 15 years on, whilst this remains a significant part of our business, we also place enormous focus on providing durable indoor and outdoor furniture for residential and holiday homes.
Nicola says, “The popular Marine Bean collection is designed and made in New Zealand. It is hard wearing and so damn comfortable!”
COAST New Zealand’s Marine Bean collection is designed to withstand New Zealand’s harsh outdoor conditions and is guaranteed to look great for several years. The design of the Marine Bean XL comprises nine panels that are similar in shape to a sail. It is this shape that provides a uniquely comfortable, low-lounging experience.
Nicola says, “We exclusively use Sunbrella® fabric in our Marine Bean collection. Because it feels wonderfully soft, comes in many colours and textures, and is guaranteed for five years against deterioration and fading, we believe it is by far the best outdoor fabric – and it is well-regarded in the super yacht industry.
“We have about eight styles across our Marine Bean and Isla collections which also include ottomans. The Isla chair is more sofa-like and the ottomans are great as extra seats or for turning the chairs into loungers.”
With this level of versatility, these collections are widely used for holiday abodes and for everyday indoor and outdoor living at home. And because they are easily moved, they make the ideal furniture option when extra guests arrive.
Whilst charcoal and taupe remain the most popular and serviceable colours, summer 2019-2020 will see a wide range of greens, lagoon and rust colours.
Nicola says if you want to make a colour statement in your home, the new Blend collection comes in nine striking colour options and is especially popular for indoor situations. The fabric has a look and feel of heavy linen and for additional pops of colourful hues, the Sunbrella® throw cushions work well and add another layer of comfort.
Longevity, comfort, quality and luxury are at the heart of everything Nicola’s business stands for. So, when summer evenings become chilly out on the harbour or on the deck of your home, COAST’s woollen throws bring further comfort to outdoor living.
Nicola says, “Our popular Mackenzie woollen throw is beautifully hand finished. It is wonderfully warm yet light and great to put over your shoulders around the BBQ when the sun goes down or use as a blanket on the sofa in mid-winter.
To ensure production remains local and sustainable, the woollen throws produced by COAST are made from wool sourced from a couple of small woollen mills located around New Zealand.
“Because these throws are New Zealand made, they are often bought by Kiwi holiday makers or overseas tourists as gifts. The Laguna linen towel is a clever multi-tasking throw, towel, or beach mat made from wonderfully soft pre-washed linen that only gets better with age. This makes it particularly useful out on the yacht or to travel with as it packs up very small, doesn’t carry odour and it dries very quickly.”
Nicola adds, “From the outset, and unquestionably, our design process has concentrated as much on materials and construction as on aesthetics and style to ensure that everything we make is not only enduring but timeless.
“Consequently, we continue to use many of the materials and methods that were previously the reserve of luxury yacht building: Contemporary ocean-going sailing yachts must be comfortable, even opulent, and yet withstand the harshest conditions at sea.” she says.
“A prerequisite for all our product development is that our design process is focused on ensuring every product that bears the COAST brand is built for life. We believe it is best to make a product so well that it provides many years of enjoyment and, most importantly, avoids unnecessary landfill.”
Just as in the 1970s, to ‘lounge’ on a bean bag has again become fashionable. But more than that it has become an adaptable, durable, comfortable and very sustainable way to enjoy outdoor living at its best. I’m guessing, in time there won’t be too many outdoor living spaces that won’t include at least one bean bag as part of a relaxing seating arrangement.
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