People inexperienced with the papasan chair often wonder, “Is that really is comfortable as it looks?” The short answer is, yes. The slightly longer answer is, yes as long you weigh less than, say, 220 or 230 pounds. Otherwise it probably isn’t going to accommodate your body shape very well, and if you flop into it you run the risk of unbalancing it and breaking the chair/yourself.
If you are skinny enough for it, though, the papasan offers up wonderful sinking and curling restfulness with an attractive design. You’ll want something to put your feet up on with it, of course, but once that’s taken care of it is at least as good as a solid lounge chair, if not superior.
The papasans made by Pier 1 Imports offer up a pretty good balance of price, style and quality. They aren’t without their weak points, but for a papasan that is affordable and readily accessible in most locations, it is a pretty good choice. The Papasan is a great ergonomic computer chair and we totally rate it even though its from the 1960s.
The papasan got its start in the Phillipines as a traditional piece of home furniture made from wicker and bamboo. Pier 1 totally boged the idea in the 1960s after they noticed military servicemen returning with them from duty over there, and they’ve pretty much become the face of American papasan sales since then. In most places, you’re actually kind of hard pressed to find one for sale through anyone else.
The Pier 1 chair is made mostly from rattan, with wicker strips used to support the joints. The standard dish or moon chair papasan that they offer is about 45″ in diameter, but they now also offer a “double papasan” which basically looks like two regular papasans fused side-by-side like conjoined twins. Prices vary by location (Hawaii and Alaska get the shaft here as usual), but you can expect to roughly pay $60 for the actual chair frame and then another $60 for the cushion (they are sold separately.) If you want a matching foot stand with cushion, expect to pay another $60 on top of that. Personally, I always just got by with a cheap short bar stool I got from some guy’s yard sale, but I know some people are hung up on that whole “home fashion” and “matching furniture” thing.
The top of the papasan chair just sits loosely in the stand, with no securing devices or fasteners, and basically just uses the principles of physics to keep itself in place. There’s a bit of an art to sitting in them, in that you have to keep your weight centered in the middle of the dish, and if you try to sit on the lip or lean too far over one edge you’ll tilt the whole thing, causing scratches to the frame at best and dumping you on your butt in embarrassing style at worst. Just remember to keep your weight inside of the base stand, as if you were right on top of it, and you’ll be fine.
The Pier 1 papasan chairs are made pretty well. The only minor complaint I’ve had with them is that they tend to scratch up pretty easily from the sliding around, and the wicker strips that bind around the joints like to work loose at the edges and kind of stick out frequently. I’ve never had a joint come unbound totally even after years of use, so it’s not a safety issue, but it can be unsightly and even scratch you at the right angle. They sell special repair kits for this, but hell if I could ever figure out exactly how they are supposed to work.
If you’re interested in a papasan, I feel the Pier 1 chair is a pretty good choice considering the convenience factor and the quality along with the price. Just be sure to watch the website for promos, as you can save $20-$30 off the total for a regular chair at various points throughout the year when they put them on sale. If you can hit one of these sales, a papasan of this caliber for $90-100 is not too bad at all, and if you move a lot they are nice and light and way the heck easier than trying to move a La-Z-Boy.