Can a bean bag become a global icon? It can when it’s Fatboy the Original, a bean bag brought to life by Finnish designer Jukka Setälä in 1998 that promptly put the Fatboy name on the map. Under the leadership of Alex Bergman, the brand has continued to evolve over the past 20 years, developing a diverse range of iconic products that extends beyond their famous bean bag, all designed with one goal in mind: escaping the daily routine with a big smile.
360 sat down with Fatboy USA CEO Paula Masters to learn a little more about how they’ve turned one iconic product into a lifestyle.
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360: Can you tell us about the history of Fatboy?
Paula Masters: We’re celebrating our 20th anniversary this year. What got us started and created the brand is our high-end, oversized bean bag called Fatboy the Original, designed by Finnish designer Jukka Setälä. Then, under the leadership of Alex Bergman we evolved into a lifestyle brand, diversifying our product portfolio to include other items outside of the bean bag. We’ve also done a really good job of collaborating with brands that have large, well-established audiences—Google, Facebook, Red Bull, Virgin. We’ve also made a point to work events that allow us to be where our customers are, such as Coachella and Bonnaroo.
Over the past 20 years, we’ve not only evolved products, but also our brand personality. We’ve become a company that people know and have a relationship with.
360: How is Fatboy being used in office environments?
PM: We’ve become a brand of choice for a lot of corporations. We’ve seen a big shift in corporate America with people really wanting to provide environments that are collaborative and support innovation and creativity, even businesses with more serious environments.
Whether it’s a think tank or a break room, they’re trying to create areas that allow for more comfort and Fatboy is the perfect solution. We’ve got bright colors that are very lively, the furniture is very flexible and can be picked up, stacked or moved easily. They’re products that make sense for a lot of companies.
360: What are some of the companies using Fatboy in interesting ways?
PM: Nike has used Fatboy numerous times for brand events as well as for some of their less traditional corporate meetings. Google has a large number of Fatboys that they keep in some of their open spaces for relaxation and Rolling Stone used us for one of the lounge areas in their office.
360: How does Fatboy use design to stand out?
PM: We’re known for using surprising materials and inspiring color palettes. It helps differentiate us from other furniture makers and speaks to a brand identity that’s a little bit independent and unexpected. We see our products as statement pieces within an environment.
Another thing that makes our pieces stand out is our attention to detail. Even though people often think of a Fatboy as an oversized piece of furniture, we believe that small things are what really matter. So whether it’s using an unexpected fabric, having a hidden pocket, or the quality of the stitching, all those small things make a big difference.
360: What kinds of unexpected materials?
PM: The core of our line started with 100% nylon, but over the years we’ve added a lot of different materials—stonewashed cotton, which is 100% cotton and has a softer hand, Sunbrella, one of the leading outdoor fabric manufacturers, and polyester.
360: What are some surprising locations using Fatboy products?
PM: A lot of schools and universities. We have product in an enormous amount of hospitals, especially in children’s wings, and in airports and other public spaces. You really never know when you’re going to come across a Fatboy.
Explore Fatboy’s offering of high-end, high-quality bean bags and more.