They were sleek in the '50s, groovy in the '60s, and overdone in the '70s — and now they're taking on a whole new life.
Sunken seating arrangements — also known as conversation pits — were once a fashionable mid-century interior design statement that eventually fell out of style. But now they're making a comeback according to , not just in private living rooms, but also in offices, thanks to startups that are installing the comfy seating areas in lieu of traditional boardrooms to encourage a more laid-back, conversational atmosphere.
Back in the 1950s, renowned architects Eero Saarinen and Alexander Girard pioneered the trend after featuring a conversation pit in a Columbus, Indiana home they designed, according to . Intended to make a room look open and uncluttered, pits fit in perfectly with the simple midcentury designs popular at the time.
In addition to streamlining a room, these seating arrangements also lent themselves to the entertaining trends of the day — both lavish affairs and casual gatherings were centered around conversations with actual people, rather than TV or phone screens. Sunken living rooms were a convenient way for large groups to gather, chat and entertain.
Nowadays, conversation pits look especially striking because they evoke a sort of social intimacy that's harder to find in this day and age. "Rather than sitting and watching Netflix, the enclosed pit meant that visitors watched each other," Kyle Chayka wrote on . "The people near and across from you were the entertainment. Some of the more wholesome images, drawn from ads or interior decorating books, depict entire families lounging around a sunken couch, playing board games and strumming guitars."
Today, designers are using them as a way to reintroduce a cozy place for people to congregate. And while these hubs certainly provide the perfect place for family and friends to gather indoors, they work well for for outdoor spaces, too.
Don't worry though — there's no shag carpeting, dark wood paneling or drab '70s color palettes accompanying the trend this time around.
[h href='http://www.curbed.com/2017/3/23/15026328/sunken-living-room-conversation-pit' target='_blank">Curbed']