Instagram’s favourite chair is, surprisingly, half a century old

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      If you’ve spent more than five seconds on Instagram anytime over the last five years, you’ve likely come across the Togo.

      Beloved by social media design girlies and professional interior designers alike, Togo’s distinct shape—available in both chair and couch form—has become ubiquitous as a marker of (very) good taste.

      Low to the floor, heavily curved, lacking armrests, and covered in ruched fabric, it’s a flagship model for French luxury furniture brand (and, significantly, manufacturer) Ligne Roset. But as Ligne Roset USA executive vice-president Simone Vingerhoets-Ziesmann points out, the Togo—constructed with four different layers of foam—wasn’t an immediate success when it launched in 1973.

      “It took three years until it really took off; it was first misunderstood because—and this is one of our core values—it was non-conforming,” she says via video from Ligne Roset’s Chicago showroom. “People were sitting on sofas that were higher up; they were very formal. And then social attitudes changed, and suddenly people were lounging and behaving differently. So it really took off in 1976. And for us it’s been number one, really, since then.”

      The Togo is the brainchild of French designer Michel Ducaroy, who was inspired by, of all things, a tube of toothpaste crinkled up and folding in on itself. (If that doesn’t demonstrate the truth of the “inspiration can come from anywhere” cliche, nothing will.)

      What makes this design endure through the decades, though, is its ability to appeal to multiple generations. It may start out as simply something to covet, but that only helps its allure.

      “It’s nice to see young people come in and look at their dream sofa,” says Vingerhoets-Ziesmann. “Even if they start with something small from the collection, and then they graduate into Togo once they can make it part of their home.”

      Ligne Roset itself is storied, too, having been founded by Antoine Roset in 1860 in Ain, France. Amazingly, all these years later, it remains a family-owned business. Which is part of what drew Vingerhoets-Ziesmann to the company back when she joined in 2017.

      “The core values behind the manufacturing are definitely the values of the family,” she says. “They use a lot of prominent designers, and the development behind the product makes it very original. I always say this product has a soul. You accompany it from being designed, to going into manufacturing—seeing all the hands that touch it in the factory to manufacture this product and then [bring it] to market, for me, has always been something very special. Because it’s tangible, it’s not abstract.”

      Locals who are interested in viewing (and touching, and sitting on, because how could you not) the Togo can do so at Livingspace, which is opening a new, specially-designed Ligne Roset shop-in-shop inside its wildly impressive West 1st Avenue showroom on September 22.

      Also on September 22 is Vingerhoets-Ziesmann’s talk at IDS Vancouver, in which she’ll go deeper into the history, significance, and magic of the Togo.

      “Everything has a story,” she says. “When I look at the mini Togos at home, I know when my kids were very little, they would sleep on them. Then they would jump on them, and then the cats would sleep on them. Those are all good stories that are super important in life. And that’s what our furniture is made for.”

      Ligne Roset & 50 Years of Togo, Presented by Livingspace 

      When: September 22, 1:30pm 

      Where: IDS Vancouver at the Vancouver Convention Centre

      Tickets: $12 to $40