Modern Icons: The Togo Sofa

It probably won’t have escaped your notice that the 70s are creeping back into fashion. The high street is full of earthy tones and corduroy fabric and, as I have observed many times before, where the catwalk leads the cushions will follow. Only in this case I think it’s come full circle from the cushions of nearly five decades ago via the high street and back round to the cushions again.

image of dunbar wharf via mywarehousehome
image of dunbar wharf via mywarehousehome 

But if there is one piece of furniture that sums up the spirit of the 1970s it has to be the Togo by Ligne Roset, the first all foam sofa that is still as much in demand now as it was when it was invented in 1973.

Described by its creator Michel Ducaroy, as  “a tube of toothpaste folded over on itself like a stovepipe and closed at both ends”, the Togo has been the company’s uncontested best seller for nearly five decades, but at the trade show Maison et Object in Paris last January, the company unveiled its Togo for the 21st century. Or, to put it another way, the Togo for those who grew up with the famously low level sofa and would now like something a little higher and easier to get up from.

image of the togo sofa via @theobert_pot
image of the togo sofa via @theobert_pot

Meet the Phileas (named for the explorer Fogg of Around The World in 80 Days) which is the Togo for the new generation. Or should that be the old generation? It’s basically an updated version of the Togo but with legs.

The original Togo, which has won many awards for its innovative all foam construction,  was very much a product of French society in the 70s, as Ligne Roset’s Creative Director, Michel Roset explains:

“The 70s were a time of innocence, but also daring. May ‘68 changed our whole society, in so many different ways. It was a world of new possibilities: travelling, finding independence, exploring identity and individuality. For Ligne Roset, it was a tremendous time of conquest, an explosion of creativity and energy.

the phileas - togo for the 21st century - by ligne roset
the phileas – togo for the 21st century – by ligne roset

“We were early in recognising the increased purchasing power of the new generation and we responded to it with great enthusiasm and an intense spirit of innovation. This new social democracy became the DNA of Ligne Roset as we know it: the arrival of the all-foam Togo and its revolutionary way of living encouraged people to explore new directions for their homes.

“Ducaroy was on a quest to create new seating concepts encouraged by the changes in social attitudes as well as the arrival of new materials and the new possibilities they opened up. The Togo was an instant success.”

Now 46 years later, a new designer, Philippe Nigro, has created a new sofa for the Togo generation, and says the panelling stitching was inspired by the elegance of the Orient Express which he saw at La Gare du Nord as a boy.

“It’s like an old-fashioned luxury banquette,” he said at the Paris trade show Maison et Object in January. “And also all French boys like Jules Verne, it’s part of our culture and so I named the sofa after that character. The sofa is both classic and modern.”

ploum by ligne roset
ploum by ligne roset

Ligne Roset is the only French furniture brand who still make everything in France. If they don’t have the skills in-house they will hire people do it looking first in France and then in Europe as whole.

The company loves to collaborate with designers and receives around 400 ideas every month. Michel Roset said the idea always comes first and the technique follows. Other companies will ask a designer to make something that works with their methods of production, Ligne Roset (which has over 800 distributors) will pick the design they like and work out how to make it afterwards. Each new product, of which there may be 100 in a year, may need a different method of production but the company is unphased by this. If it likes the idea it will work to make it work.

So it was with the Ploum (pictured above), which took three years to get to market and now feature a new material called Appa – short for the French word for clothing Apparel, which has outlines of patterns from clothes on it.

It’s all a long way from the origins of this company which began making parasols and walking sticks before diversifying into chairs and cabinets. Now, like the fashions of the 70s which have come full circle, so this company which began making things out of wood has evolved to make furniture with no wood at all.

the new appa fabric on the uncover sofa by ligne roset
the new appa fabric on the uncover sofa by ligne roset

From 5 April there is 10 per cent off all furniture at Ligne Roset should you fancy. The Phileas and Appa fabric will be out in September. 

For disclosure: this post was not paid for but I wanted to write something after the company invited me to Paris earlier in the year to have a look at their stand and their new products.




Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. Loved Togo. We bought ours in 1982 in Dublin from O’Hagen Design. It was Pale Grey with very thin Navy Pinstripe. It’s still doing Duty across the water in Muswell Hill at my son’s house and now I’m the one who has to be assisted out of it when I visit 😂 It used to be my mother in law back in the day!!
    It was so comfortable Kate. Never lost its shape and despite the colour… the fabric just shrugged off the dirt. Not keen on that look of the Phileas but that Ploum looks gorgeous 👍 Thanks for that Kate. Brought me back!!!

  2. I am a child of the 60’s and in truth we could not afford such sofa’s then and although we can afford over £3000 for a sofa now, I doubt most of the younger generation can.

    Rather pie in the sky but interesting never the less.

  3. Thank you for the newest Modern Icon. I love Ligne Roset and have purchased many pieces from them over the years. This sofa has not been one of my favorites as I always feel like I’m folded up in a taco when I sit in it. I’ll try the new Phileas to see if this one’s a winner.

  4. Really like the look of the Phileas.
    I grew up with the Habitat version of the foam sofa – shaped a bit like a comma. Great fun ( along with the white futuristic plastic tables) although not always comfortable!

  5. These sofas are so very not my cup of tea, never understood their popularity. Haven’t tried one out though, so I can only guess they’re unimaginably comfortable to compensate for those unattractively obese lines.

    1. Hi Gill, I’m afraid what with writing a new book and four blog posts a week I’m all out of words. I’m so sorry. Hoping to resume it soon. Also had a wobble that it wasn’t very interesting and thought rather than hunt for things to say I would park it for a period. It will be back I’m sure. x

      1. I’m not surprised! You don’t do things by half!! I thought it was great so if you do crank it up again I’m sure there’ll be plenty of avid followers, including me.
        Love the blog and looking forward to the next book 🙂

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