A well-behaved sofa seldom makes history. Although in truth, even the most iconic pieces of furniture rarely do either, known to the public only as part of a broad aesthetic — from mustard colours to mushroom shapes — or a trend. Ligne Roset‘s Togo is an emphatic exception. Designed by Michel Ducaroy and debuted in 1973, the sofa has become one of the world’s most recognizable design objects, gracing the living spaces of Lenny Kravitz — who owns four of them — and Lady Gaga to boutique hotels and offices, not to mention homes of design lovers the world over.
How did it get so popular? While the instantly recognizable form immediately draws the eye, realizing Togo’s unstructured, pillowy form necessitated technically innovative fabrication. Inspired by Ducaroy’s observation of a tube of toothpaste that “folded back on itself like a stovepipe and closed at both ends,” the the all-foam cushion seat was the world’s first sofa made entirely of polyurethane. Free of springs and structure, the combination of carefully assembled foam and meticulous stitching ensures that the sofa retains its shape and comfort — even if you jumped on it. For all that, it wasn’t an immediate hit.
“In the beginning, it didn’t sell well,” says Simone Vingerhoets-Ziesmann, executive vice president of Ligne Roset Americas. Indeed, when the three-seat Togo sofa was introduced at Paris trade exhibition, the early buzz didn’t immediately translate to commercial success. Low to the ground, soft and informal, Ducaroy’s design was a radical departure from the norm. “It represented a way to sit that was revolutionary,” says artist, illustrator and author, Jean-Philippe Delhomme, drawing a contrast to the traditional sofas — with raised seats on legs, armrests, and firm seats — that dominated the market.
Yet, evolving social mores soon connected Togo to a larger public. As the hippy counterculture of the 1960s gradually filtered into a broader zeitgeist throughout the ’70s, the sofa’s expressive form and playfully low seat — which invited casual, relaxed and unfussy social interaction — became an expression of a changing culture. By the 1980s, Ligne Roset would furnish the offices of the French President François Mitterrand. “When he sat in the sofa, President Mitterrand became François,” says Vingerhoets-Ziesmann.
Today, Togo reigns as a quintessential Instagram and TikTok sofa — where its presence is practically ubiquitous — though its cultural influence and staying power is rooted in a deeper place. And while well over 1.5 million Togo units have been sold — a variety of formats and upholstery options are now available, including a children’s size — Ligne Roset has maintained its artisanal approach manufacturing, ensuring the same commitment to quality. (It also means that Togo is one of the world’s most shamelessly duplicated designs).
To celebrate the sofa’s anniversary, a special edition covering was released this year. Dubbed La toile du peintre and designed by Pierre Frey, a large-scale interpretation of a graphic freehand painting by artist Heather Chontos. Meanwhile, this year’s Looking for Togo podcast delves into the living legacy of Ducaroy’s design, tracing the roots of a uniquely influential piece of furniture — from friends’ and parents’ houses to lifestyle influencers and TikTok mavens, all the way to the Palm Springs home of former Guns N’ Roses drummer Matt Sorum. Not to be outdone by Kravitz, he has four of them too.
Designed by Michel Ducaroy and debuted in 1973, Ligne Roset’s iconic sofa celebrates its 50th birthday in style.