Japanese chain wants to make inflatable furniture the next big thing, but it’s harder to set up than an Ikea flatpack.

From our experience, there are many situations that could be improved with a one-person sofa. Take our office, for example — plenty of office chairs but no sofa, not even in the break room, but then again, there isn’t really enough room to fit a sofa anyway.

Our reporter Mariko Ohanabatake has never been one to let a lack of space prevent her from living her best life, though, so as soon as she heard about Muji’s new Sofa Made From Air” she had high hopes that this could be just the thing to bring a quiet corner of respite to the office.

▼ On sale nationwide from 11 January, the sofa is a bargain at just 9,990 yen (US$68.19).

▼ The product is available in three colours: Grey, Green and Yellow.

With the office being dark and grey, Mariko opted for yellow to help brighten up the space.

Weighing 4.9 kilos (10.8 pounds), no delivery was required for this little sofa, so Mariko asked staff to pop it in a large bag for 150 yen…

…and then she swung it on her shoulder for the train ride from Akihabara back to our office in Shinjuku.

These shopping bags are great, because once you’re done with them you can return them to Muji and get your money back, and they made carrying the box much easier than if she’d just carried it back to the office as is.

That being said, it still wasn’t an easy task, because by the time Mariko returned to the office, she was exhausted and her shoulders were pounding. However, if the sofa turned out to be as good as it looked online, the strain would definitely be worth it, so she immediately got to work pumping air into it, using the included pump.

When she picked up the plastic pump, it felt surprisingly cheap, and Mariko wan’t certain if it would do a good job of bringing the sofa to life.

Looking at the instruction manual, the setup looked a lot more complicated than she’d initially hoped for, adding to her uncertainty about this being a success.

She thought there might be just one valve for inflating, but as it turns out, there were four points of inflation, which had to be pumped in the order of A → B → C1 → C2 → D.

Still hopeful that the results would be worth it, Mariko unzipped the cover and found the A valve. Attempting to attach the nozzle into the valve proved to be quite difficult, though, as it didn’t fit perfectly and the pump was short and flimsy so she had to make sure it didn’t slip out while pumping air.

She had to also be careful not to pump too much air into the airbag, otherwise the cover wouldn’t close properly.

After dealing with valve A, she thought B would be close by, but no matter how hard she tried, she just couldn’t find it.

She eventually found it in an unsuspecting place, hidden away under the folds of the sofa.

By this time, Mariko was now drenched in sweat and her arms and lower back were beginning to hurt as she had to stay in a bent position to pump the bottom section.

She wasn’t going to give up, though, so she powered through the pain, managing to pump air into the C1 and C2 sections that made up the armrests before inflating D, which was the back section, and then the job was done.

▼ Well, the job should’ve been done, but what she was left with was a very saggy chair.

Reaching inside to find out what went wrong, Mariko discovered that the various sections may not have been totally inflated, so she had to smooth out the wrinkles in the air bags and ensure every nook and cranny was filled with air.

By this stage, the sofa was large so the work was difficult, and it tore Mariko’s polish off her nails.

Persevering through her growing ailments, Mariko made repeated small adjustments such as adding and removing air, smoothing out wrinkles, and then, finally, finally, the sofa was complete.

▼ The setup took approximately 40 minutes.

After all this hard effort, Mariko now needed to sit down, so it was a good thing she had an inflatable sofa.

▼ She’d never been so glad to have a sofa at work.

The sofa was more comfortable than she expected, with a bouncy feel when fully inflated and a more relaxed feel once some of the air is let out.

It wasn’t as comfortable as the so-called “sofa that makes you a useless human being“, but she supposed that was a good thing, seeing as useless human beings aren’t looked on kindly in an office environment.

From that point of view, this was the perfect sofa for the office, and Mariko soon found herself reaching for a bag of snacks to reward herself for her efforts.

When she eventually got up from the sofa, it was immediately occupied again, this time by her colleague P.K. Sanjun, who found it to be equally comfortable.

▼ Not so comfortable to fall asleep in, but better than an office chair.

It was bigger than they both expected, but compact enough for their cramped workspace. Plus, the sofa can be easily deflated and folded up so they can pack it away whenever they need to.

▼ Once deflated it can be folded up to look like it did when we first got it.

Deflating is much easier than inflating, though, so Mariko declared that whoever deflates it will be required to inflate it, and she won’t be deflating it anytime soon.

After she got back to her desk, she took another look at the instructions, where she found that despite the sofa being designed for people who live alone, the manual stated that assembly should be done by two or more people. So if you’re thinking about purchasing the sofa, you’ll want to make sure you have more than one pair of hands ready for the task, lest you lose the polish off your fingers and your enthusiasm for the chair made from air.

Once it’s inflated, though, the sofa really is good value for money, and a great option for those wanting a comfortable seat in a tight space. It’s equally suitable for short breaks and long periods of sitting, and if you want to make things even more cosy, you can use the money you’ve saved to invest in a heated table.

Related: Muji
Photos: ©SoraNews24
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