This '70s Living Room Staple is Back and Better Than Ever
Design buffs—as well as Instagram and Pinterest—are swooning over '70s modular furniture. These low-slung couches and chairs (especially the distinctive folded-fabric Togo Sofa) are taking center stage in all kinds of interiors. They look fresh when paired with other throwback pieces (like rattan chairs or macrame) or modernized with the wavy styles and pastel colors of the moment. These surprisingly versatile statement pieces even shine in an otherwise sleek, neutral Organic Modern room. And, given the rising interest in Togo specifically, we’re excited to give you a deep dive into its design and that of similar low-slung modular couches, in both their original blue-chip designer iterations as well as some more recent, budget-friendly dupes.
Why is This Modular Furniture Thing Happening Now?
The New York Times sums up today’s “embrace of bulbous, low-slung, super-squishy furniture that offers all-out comfort” as being “the furniture equivalent of sweatpants.” Designer Nate Berkus has a chair and sofa made by Italian luxury furniture makers Cassina in 1969. Born in 1971, Berkus is almost as old as his award-winning couch, named the Soriana, and he’s recovered it numerous times, featuring the design in his family’s homes in Los Angeles and New York. (Kelly Wearstler has the same style in her Malibu home.) While Cassina stopped producing new versions of the sofa, upscale vintage retailers are selling vintage examples at a premium, when you can get your hands on one. (For example, a recent check of 1stDibs featured a comely caramel leather version for $12,000.)
What’s So Unique About These Sofas?
In contrast to the severe right angles and wooden accents of the ongoing Midcentury Modern trend, the silhouette of trending low-slung modular sofas is positively blobby. Take the Togo sofa, designed by Ligne Roset in the early ‘70s and showing up today in fashionable apartments from a musician’s Manhattan Seaport pad to a fashion trendsetter’s flat in Paris’s Haut-Marais. The design is especially comfortable because it is dense poly foam that you sink down into, instead of a traditional sofa, which is constructed with springs or supports and feather or foam stuffing. Overall, these sofas are a bit lower to the ground than traditional seating. You can find fabric upholstery examples today in vintage stores for a few thousand dollars, while a new version from Ligne Roset will run you three times that. And a coveted vintage Ligne Roset still in its original leather, looking like a couch version of a Shar Pei puppy? That’ll be close to ten grand. However, a five-piece set inspired by the Togo is available for $1,700, which has us thinking we’ll split it with a friend and use them as accent pieces…
Is There a Secret to Using Modular Sofas in Our Decidedly Non-Designer Home?
Use restraint in the rest of the room—for example, in designer Athena Calderone’s Hamptons home, her Cameleonda couch is an eye-catching light teal shade of mohair, while the rest of the room is a medley of quiet earth tones. And make the most of the way you can rearrange the furniture; for example, the Cameleonda sofa can be a sofa, a love seat or a chaise, depending on what pieces you attach to one another using the rings and carabiners the pieces connect with. And whenever possible, let these lumpen modular pieces breathe with as much open space around them as possible (the better to appreciate their lines). Also, forgo throw pillows as best you can, since design this gutsy doesn’t need anything competing with its curved chicness.