Is it time to rethink the common couch and the average armchair? Clunky upholstered seating can be challenging to own for a number of reasons. It’s bulky and heavy, often requiring all sorts of gymnastics and creative angles to move it into apartments with narrow doors and stairways — and unless you’re using slipcovers, it’s difficult to clean. A few errant hairballs hacked up by your cat can ruin an otherwise lovely piece of furniture. Plus, these days, most of us are living in smaller and smaller spaces, especially in cities. Adaptability and versatility are more important than ever.

Continue reading below
Our Featured Videos
Dango Armchair - Angieszka Kowal

Here’s an idea that makes it easy to multiply the amount of available seating you have in seconds. Polish designer Angieszka Kowal presents “Dango,” a modern chair with a plywood frame outfitted with two modular cushions that double as “poufs” for the floor. Both of the cushions easily slide over the back and seat of the chair but retain their shape when used alone on hard surfaces. Their doughy appearance is no mistake, as the designer drew inspiration from pillowy Japanese confections.

Dango transforming armchair

The inner section of each cushion is lined with a pair of plywood plates so they can grip the frame of the chair without sliding off. Even after you remove the poufs, the frame of the chair is comfortable and stylish, with simple arms made of leather straps and a cutout pattern in its center that gives it a bit of flexibility. The chair’s focus on simple materials and uncomplicated craftsmanship makes its design suitable for a variety of interior decor schemes.

Though Dango is only offered as a single chair at the moment, it’s easy to imagine scaling its design up into love seats and full-sized couches, perhaps with larger poufs. You might want more or less padding depending on whether you want to lounge while watching television or sit straight up to work on a project, and you can even use the poufs as ottomans for your feet. When it’s time to move, each part can be transported individually, eliminating the strain of carrying an entire couch and making it easier to pack your truck.

Dango armchair and pouf

Kowal explains: “How did the idea for the ‘Dango’ armchair crop up? The moment when I helped my friends moving to a new flat led to designing this piece of furniture — a seat in the shape of an armchair. This is because my friends had very heavy, chunky, and hard-to-transport sofas. The most important assumptions included a small size, mobility, and a possibility of increasing the number of seats. ‘Dango’ is made of plywood with an arched seat, using an experimental method of plotter cut — that’s why the material became flexible.”

“The two ottomans were made of upholstery fabric and filled with a sponge and filler. They also consist of a structural element made of plywood. The poufs can be used together or separately… I was inspired with Japanese culture and tried to reflect it in the lower sitting position and the simplicity of the materials. The name ‘Dango’ came from Japanese dumpling and sweet made from mochiko (rice flour).”