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What Is a Papasan Chair?

By Maggie Worth
Updated May 16, 2024
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A papasan chair is a round chair. It usually consists of a two-part frame and a cushion. These casual chairs have long been favorites in environments from dorm rooms to first apartments to luxury homes. Based on traditional Asian and Middle Eastern furniture designs, these chairs were introduced in the United States and Europe in the 1950s and were especially popular in the 1970s.

The frame of a papasan chair is generally made from rattan that has been tied with fiber or cord. It may also be manufactured out of wood or heavy-duty wicker. The stand is round and is narrower at the top than at the base. The seat frame is circular and bowl-shaped. It is made of concentric rings of rattan or wood lashed to radiating wooden supports. The seat fits into the base and can be tipped or tilted to create the most comfortable position.

Frames might be a natural bamboo color with a clear-coat finish or can be stained in any number of colors. Dark stains and whitewash stains are quite popular. Frames can generally be purchased separately from cushions, and either part of the frame may be bought separately from online sources.

Cushions are usually tufted, meaning that stitching or buttons attach the top to the bottom at regularly-spaced intervals, making a dent in the cushion. The resulting effect is somewhat similar to quilting. The cushion is slightly wider in diameter than the stand seat frame. Cushions are available in a variety of fabrics, including canvas, velvet, cotton, polyester blends, and silk. They are also available in a wide variety of solid colors as well as patterns.

Papasan chair cushions can be recovered like any other cushion. Custom covers can also be purchased or commissioned. Such covers often have a zipper or bottom closure so they can be removed for washing. The cushions themselves typically are hand-wash only. Cushions also can be removed from their frames and used on the floor.

Due to their depressed shape, papasan chairs are often called bowl chairs. An oval-shaped, double-sized papasan chair may be called a papasan love seat or a mamasan chair. Ottomans are available for both papasan and mamasan chairs as well.

Similar to the papasan chair is the moon chair. This chair is also round, but usually has a one-piece metal or plastic frame and a seat made of stretched fabric rather than a cushion. Moon chairs have independent legs rather than a resting stand and are often collapsible.

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