Are Conversation Pits Coming Back In Style?

The '70s are often remembered fondly as a time of revolution and cultural change, which inspired a decade of iconic trends in music, fashion, pop culture, and home decor –- many of which people have tried to replicate in recent years. A resurgence in counterculture and political activism has created a renewed interest in 70's inspired trends, but experts say that the COVID-19 pandemic has also helped make one trend, in particular, the subject of a lot of buzz lately — the iconic '70s conversation pit.

In a time where social distancing and remote work have left many feeling isolated, The New York Times reports that many people view '70s-style conversation pits as a symbol of togetherness and intimacy, reminding them of a simpler time where face-to-face conversation had not yet been tainted by the everyday realities of Zoom calls and digital screens. "Not only are we physically separated from one another, we are culturally, socially and politically separated from each other, and the end to that separateness is not in sight," interior designer Rock Herzog told the publication. "So the conversation pit is this fantasy of 'what would it be like if we were together again and having a good time?'"

Reimagining a vintage trend in a modern way

According to Southern Living, the peak popularity of conversation pits in the '70s was largely due to an architect and designer named Ward Bennett, who told The New York Times back in 1975 that though conversation pits were originally designed in the '50s in an effort to eliminate the need for furniture altogether. He successfully sought to revive the trend in the '70s so as to simplify a living space, and in turn, the way people live — an idea he credited to none other than Gandhi.

Because of a renewed interest yet again in a more simple way of living, Dwell reports that many architects are seeking to expand on Bennett's efforts and ideas and translate them in an intentional way that works today. Using updated and modern materials paired with reimagined color palettes is a great way to utilize this vintage design trend in your own space without it feeling dated.

How to mimic the intimacy of a conversation pit

While this design trend has exploded in popularity on social media lately, interior designer and architect Noel Fedosh says via Los Angeles Magazine that the comeback trend may not be practical for most people, as it's far more invasive and extensive than most home updates. The overall foundation of a house would need to be modified and lowered in order to make it work — an undertaking that could cost as much as six figures. Not to mention, carving out the foundation of your home also isn't possible if you live on an upper level of an apartment building.

Though a true conversation pit isn't an attainable design feature for many people, the sense of intimacy and coziness that they create can be achieved in other ways. Linda Taylor, store manager of Circle Furniture, says that incorporating visual divides into a living space with an open concept such as bookshelves or divider screens can help create a sense of intimacy and make a large, open space feel less sterile and overwhelming (via Circle Furniture).

Interior designer Carla Aston also adds that arranging two identical sofas to face each other is a great way to create an intimate seating area that brings people together — just like a conversation pit (via Carla Aston Designed).