Get Ready: 1960s-Style Conversation Pits Are Making a Comeback

These retro seating areas are popping up in offices, homes and outdoor spaces.

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 Curbed, 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.

View this post on Instagram

Opening Last Night: Step right into the history of the modern design movement and go see this weekend at the #architectureanddesignfilmfestival the amazing and inspiring documentary on #eerosaarinen created and directed by his son #ericsaarinen Shown is the sunken living room of the #millerhouse located in Columbus, Indiana built by #aerosaarinen and interiors created by #alexandergirard #adfilmfest

A post d by Amy Lau Design (@amylaudesign) on

View this post on Instagram

For when you wanna snuggle up with a book on the sofa... On your own or with ten of your closest friends (it's a big sofa) #sunkenlivingroom #sunkensofa #sofa #livingroom #canggu #bali #villa #interiors #interiordesign #design #architecture #Indonesia #berawa #Indonesia #copper #balivilla

A post d by The Mandala Portfolio - Bali (@mandalaplaces) on

View this post on Instagram

Can't wait to put my feet up tonight! I love a sunken lounge and this is a feature we're including in our new house plans we've been working on today. This was taken a year ago for @tigmitrading at our Federal house 📷 @aliciataylorphotography #sunkenlivingroom #takealoadoff #rugart #hinterland

A post d by Emma Lane (@emmallane) on

View this post on Instagram

#aspacetochat #gregburgess #conversationpit #midcentury #detailing...Thanks for having us Rob and Melissa!

A post d by Parlour (@_parlour) on

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 Apartment Therapy. 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 Curbed. "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.

View this post on Instagram

Breathtaking views. Enjoy the California indoor outdoor lifestyle to the max! Rancho La Quinta CC. We are your guides to Desert Views and Desert Dream Homes with Denise DeCaro & Kim Jones, Realtors 🌺✨ Click 👇our Profile For access to All properties. - - - - - - - - - - - - #DesertDreamsComeTrue #California #CoachellaValley #DesertHomes #Blessed #RealEstate #DreamTeam #lifestyle #epic #staycation #secondhome #vacationhome #holiday #active #boomers #Retire #Desert #golf #golfcourse #golflife #retireinstyle #retireyoung #play #conversationpit #patio #entertaining #spa #luxurydesign #luxurylife

A post d by Denise Decaro, Kim Jones (@desertdreamhomescometrue) on

View this post on Instagram

Outdoor ENTERTAINING 👍🏻 #birdsinbeecroftrenothree #realrenos #sevenweekreno

A post d by THREE BIRDS RENOVATIONS (@threebirdsrenovations) on

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='' target='_blank">Curbed']

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below