Eero Saarinen, a Finnish-American is an architect who designed the first ever conversation pit for an industrialist called J. Irwin Miller in 1957.
It was a square sunken structure in the middle of a modernist floor, painted white and the built-in stone bench like structures was adorned with brightly colored cushions. By 1963 Time magazine did an expose on the what become known as the “conversation pit” labelling the trend over as stories of mishaps at various parties and everyday occurrences of people falling into the pit. So, the trend dyed out until recently.
Now we are seeing varying versions of the conversation pit from outdoor sunken fire pits, the conversation pit that is more like a conversation lounge as the built-in couches surround a low walled enclosure that is on the same level as the rest of the house to full-blownround or sunken pits housing either a coffee table or some form of fireplace in the middle of the room. Regardless of the varying styles these pits all have one very unique and currently, welcome and appealing design aspect in common – it is a conversation pit so there is no television!
The way the couches are designed to wrap around the entire space of the room leaving only a small gap for the entrance into the pit makes it great for actual human face time and not the one on the smartphone either. Being forced to look at the person in front of your or within your peripheral vision with nothing to distract your attention like the TV or gaming console.
Let’s hope that with the resurrection of the conversation pit will mean the resurrection of actual conversation and not a bunch of people sitting in a square or circle communication to the person across the way on their smart device!