August 01 2010
At a time when furniture design is so exciting and innovative, it is mystifying to me why garden furniture seems to have changed so little over the decades. Most falls into one of two camps: bland, boring and brown, or a riot of tutti-frutti colours in cheap plastic. There are some great classic designs by companies such as Heveningham, but if you want something more suited to relaxed family living and easy entertaining, a hammock is probably your best bet – hardly conducive to conversation.
So imagine my relief when I happened across the Marine Bean on Randle Siddeley’s website. Made in New Zealand by Coast, the Marine Bean is quite simply an outdoor beanbag, originally designed for yachts. Made from marine-grade materials, it is able to withstand all kinds of weather – if it can endure the harsh elements at sea, it won’t have a problem surviving an English garden in summer. You do have to fill the beanbags yourself (polystyrene beads or Styrofoam beans) and this is a two-person job, though hardly complicated.
Not surprisingly, the Marine Bean is a big hit with children, but my advice is to make them sit on the grass while you recline in comfort with a gin and tonic in hand. The colours are mercifully kind to the eyes, too – lots of aqua-inspired shades, as you might expect. I bought two: one in Sapphire Blue, and one in Cadet Grey, both XL size. They cost £423 each. The downside is that the weeds are running riot while we lounge the summer away.