During the late 1960s, ergonomics was the all-important concept. Interior designers went passionately in search of perfect flexibility of their creations, including Gatti, Paolini and Teodoro. Their goal was to create an unconventional yet accessible seater that – ideally – would remind its owner of snow. As Gatti put it: "You throw yourself into it and you leave a legacy."
The number of flexible and adaptable furniture was limited in those years. There were already waterbeds available, but only at prohibitively high prices. The French group Utopie was experimenting with inflatable rubber structures, by means of which furniture could be moved easily. However, the aesthetics of these models did not correspond to the ideas of Gatti and his team. In 1967, Italy's design pioneer Zanotta introduced the air-based chair Blow. Design, materials and manufacturing processes were revolutionary; however, the chair was was quite uncomfortable due to its hard surface. Therefore, the three designers chose foam as basic material and experimented with blocks of polyurethane. As procurement and processing proved to be complex and costly, Gatti, Paolini and Teodoro focused on fillings in the form of balls; initially they even used ping-pong balls. Ultimately, Gatti directed his research into the construction industry, where they had been using foam beads for isolation and insulation.
A decisive stimulus from the United States
After completing a first prototype the three designers decided to not proceed with their work - because of their scepticism over the commercial success of such a “bean bag”. However, after an American design magazine asked in 1967 for pictures of their latest works, the team sent in a photo of the product that they called Sacco. A short time later, the Italian representative of Macy's, the mighty New York-based department store chain, approached Gatti: “Product scouts at the headquarters had the Sacco discovered. Now we would be interested in about 10,000 copies." Gatti said that the prototype must be modified further and start of production was not clear yet. Consequently, information on pricing and delivery times was at this stage not yet available.
Undoubtedly, Macy’s offer greatly facilitated the search for eligible production partners. The team quickly opted for Zanotta, the company that had introduced one of the few comparable products to the market shortly before. Zanotta agreed to produce three prototypes and included them in their appearance at the Paris Furniture Fair in 1968. The rest is history. The Sacco has been awarded many times and celebrated in 2018 its 50th anniversary. In honor, Zanotta launched a limited edition of 50 exclusive designs - with beautiful names like Bellissima and Il Casanova.