I don't know about you, but after a year of interacting with my friends exclusively in 2D from the neck up, I am starved for some quality in-person hangs. In fact, I've spent the past year of social distance reconfiguring my home to suit my high hopes for safe indoor gatherings this Summer: pregames, wine and cheese nights, cocktail hours, Murder Mystery parties, highlighter dinner parties (let's make it a thing!) are all on the docket for post-pandemic socializing. I've never been more ready to (safely) reemerge from my isolation.
Enter the conversation pit. Invented by architect Bruce Goff in 1927, conversation pits are culturally associated with the 1970s when they were shag-carpeted and all the rage.
The conversation pit has been threatening to come back with every upswing in bohemian style, but never has there been such a perfect alignment of the stars. 70s features like crochet and clogs saw a revival in 2021-2022 fashion week presentations, and it is only a matter of time before rattan and macramé take over our homes. With vaccinations being doled out in greater numbers, it feels like Spring is in the air, possibility on the horizon, and our collective social lives are ramping up. The conversation pit is the ultimate home feature to meet the moment.
The 2021 conversation pit has left the sunken design behind, instead utilizing sofa sectionals that sit low-to-the-ground to induce coziness. Sectionals have corner pieces and angles that help define the pit. Armchairs and loveseats just can’t hold a candle to a sectional’s feeling of intimacy and continuous flow of seating. Modular couches provide flexibility of arrangement, while keeping the seating connected. A modular design also allows for addition: there’s quite literally always room for one more. It’s that more-the-merrier energy that we’re chasing in the aftermath of so much isolation, as modular and sectional sofas come to define the aspirational 2021 home.
The (just freshly) vintage and youngest design on this list by far, the Tufty Time sofa was created by Patricia Urquiola for B&B Italia in 2000. It’s been praised for its versatility, with the ability to arrange it as a footstool, chaise lounge, islands, and more, not to mention its coalescence with a number of interior styles. No backrests, no worries: The Tufy Time is like an ultra-modernist lily pad. Or, level up: opt for (2) lounges with a backrests for an unbelievably comfortable bed frame for your next group nap.
The Italian architect-designer dream team, Tobia and Afra Scarpa own classic, clean modernist design — while also prioritizing comfort and ease. Their Soriana sofa (1968) is not traditionally modular (though you could build a set over time with additional chair(s) and ottoman) and has a chrome accent bar that gathers fabric for its resulting rounded finish. Soriana makes the list for this plush build and its low-slung seat that lends itself to lounging and eating a 3-course meal off the coffee table.
It’s been compared to teeth, a caterpillar, and Outback Steakhouse’s Bloomin’ Onion (ok, that last one was me). The Nonstop (aka the DS-600) was designed by Ueli Berger, Eleonore Peduzzi-Riva, Heinz Ulrich, Klaus Vogt in 1972. This winding, snaking modular piece made of entirely armchair elements is so good at connecting people, just look at how many hands went into its creation for de Sede! In spite of its name, the Nonstop is a showstopper and the perfect design for a social space.
You know we couldn’t make this list without Togo. Love it or hate it, the surge of Togo sofas and fireside lounges has been undeniable, with good reason. This striking furniture line by Michel Ducaroy for Ligne Roset has been seen in the homes of Instagram it-girls like Alyssa Coscarelli and Thai singer Proud Oranicha. Does it give slouchy, folded larvae look? Yes. Is it a supremely comfortable seat for the whole squad to sink into with glasses of wine in hand? Also yes!
Mario Bellini derived the name for the Camaleonda (c. 1979) by combining the words for chameleon and wave in Italian, a nod to the couch’s malleability and undulating surface. B&B Italia reissued the sofa just last year, no doubt due to its swell of popularity. The Camaleonda is an instant statement and mood-booster— something about its bubbling shape makes you (and your guests) feel ebullient, light. Pair with champagne and toast to our health!
What do you think, will the conversation pit stick around?