November 4, 2007

DTQ: Chinatown Shopping Bag Furniture?


Alright, design gurus, I'm stumped. I swear I remember someone stuffing foam blocks into these dollar store plaid nylon shopping bags and making a sofa and chairs. It was a few years ago, maybe even Y2K, and I think it was in London. I think it could make a great--if slightly crumply noisy--little sofa for the kids' room.

Does that ring any bells with anyone? Does anyone even know what these bags are called or how to search for them? I love that they're so ubiquitous that every homeless guy uses them and every passenger to Mumbai has one for his carry-on, but yet a yuppie snob like myself is totally in the dark.

image: Digestion, Edra mfr. via

update: thanks to Renaud, who identified none other than Matali Crasset, DT's favorite Philippe Starck refugee, as the creator in 1997 of the "Barbes" pouffe. It was later manufactured as "Digestion" by Edra in 2000, who's known for high-concept foam sofas. Though I have a hard time seeing why you don't just make it from the original, on principle. Also, if I'm putting this anywhere near a crawly kid, I'd chop off the handles, or sew them down. They're exactly at baby head height.


Not sure about the furniture but the bags are from Louis Vuitton apparently.

[they are now. I might just have to go down to Canal st somewhere. -ed]

I seem to recall watching somebody do something very similar on UK TV with some big blocks of foam, some sort of cover and some velcro to stick them together with. I don't think you are imagining things!

Whether it's been done or not, it's a nice idea. Not all yuppie snobs are in the dark about em though: Jack Spade Canal Street.

Check any stores which have the word "dollar" in their name. Dollar General and Dollar Tree are two examples. You are almost certain to find some there and probably at around $3

[I'm not saying I'd RATHER pay a couple grand for a pre-made sofa, but I would like to see how they did it... My completion rate on furniture projects for the kid's room is a little, well, I'll let Kaz point it out. -ed.]

I travel for work, and I am currently in El Paso. They are for sale at every place by the bridges to Mexico. Usually $1.

They look like bags designed to hold comforters, Target's site has some similar for not too much money
But I think this one would be better for the seat of the couch
the bottom is canvas (I think) so flip it upside down, and wa-la a great place to stash a comforter and a kid sized couch :)

In my neighborhood, you can get them at laundromats. I see a lot of people - usually immigrants - carrying their laundry back and forth in them.

First designer to fill these bags with foam to make sofas was Mattali Crasset a french former Starck assistant, that was back in mid 90.
The bag was copied by Marc Jacob for Louis Vuitton 2 years ago, it's a leather bag.
The original bag is produced in Morocco, is in plastic.
You find these bags in any shop in Barbes Paris for 5€ (approx. 8$)
The bag is an icon of popular people in France.

[Matali Crasset, is there anything she CAN'T do? Thanks for the find. It's on her website, "furnituer: Edra". Called "Barbes" pouffe, it was originally for a bar in 1997, then it was manufactured and shown by Edra in 2000 in Milan. The Marc Jacobs/LV thing has actually kept me from even considering the concept for a while, frankly. At least it wasn't one of Lagerfeld's ghetto stunts for Chanel. -ed.]

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