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50 Years Of Roche Bobois

Rachael Grainger finds out why Roche Bobois has the personal touch

Written by . Published on June 8th 2011.

50 Years Of Roche Bobois

THE intertwining of fashion and design is no new phenomenon, but it has surely never been achieved more effortlessly than by those at Roche Bobois. Since the company's inception in the 1950's, Roche Bobois have strived to bring relaxed elegance and unrivalled comfort into their customer's homes, all the while hunting down the most prestigious and esteemed names in fashion design, and even, in the case of Sacha Lakic, car and motorbike design. For Roche Bobois, a new collection is launched twice annually following the fashion world's calendar, with a Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter launch. Collaborations with designers from all walks of life allow them to expand their reach by crossing over into different fields. These partnerships have kept the company current and relevant, bearing more resemblance to a high fashion house than your average furniture distributor. You will not find innovation and luxury quite like this in an Ikea flat pack.

As with a quality garment of clothing or pair of boots, Roche Bobois furniture comes with the appeal of looking fresh season after season. Each timeless piece ages gracefully, a sofa feeling yet more luxurious each time you sit on it, wood and upholstery maturing and yet retaining the fresh and fun appeal that drew you to it in the first place.

In recent years, an increase in 'disposable' fashion has occurred as a result of the weakened economy, and there is almost a clear division between two groups of consumers. There are those who do not want to spend a lot, as buying cheaper and in bulk is what current budgets allow, and those who believe in buying less, but buying better quality, because their furniture will stand the test of time. As with a quality garment of clothing or pair of boots, Roche Bobois furniture comes with the appeal of looking fresh season after season. Each timeless piece ages gracefully, a sofa feeling yet more luxurious each time you sit on it, wood and upholstery maturing and yet retaining the fresh and fun appeal that drew you to it in the first place.

Roche Bobois began as a story of people, with the union of two family businesses. The Chouchans, from Central Europe, and the Rouches from rural south-west France joined forces with two young and enthusiastic brothers from each family, sharing an entrepreneurial spirit, an understanding of the aspirations of the new generation and an impatience to embrace it. Even today, a handful of the company's directors are descendants of the founders.

Over the years, they have secured their place in the market as a brand synonymous with quality, comfort, and a sleek, modern aesthetic. The interior of a Roche Bobois showroom is curated just as an art gallery would be, filled with a variety of aesthetics and styles of furniture; you could come away with enough furniture to fill an entire flat and it would look like you had spent years travelling Europe, buying one-off pieces from far-away markets and secret shops. Admittedly, Roche Bobois furniture comes with a hefty price tag, and so a second mortgage may have to be a consideration in order to do so. Any furniture showroom with the power to draw you in for an unassuming wander and yet leave you feeling your life is no longer complete without at least one article of furniture is certainly worth a visit, if only to admire and lust over.

Celebrating their 50th anniversary in style, Roche Bobois joined forces with Jean-Paul Gaultier to create Jean-Paul Gaultier Pour Roche Bobois Paris. The collection included yet another reinvention of the timeless Mah Jong sofa; the company's overlap with the fashion world has seen fashion luminaries such as Kenzo, Missoni and Ungaro invited to dress this iconic piece of furniture. Created in 1969 by German designer Hans Hopfer, the Mah Jong sofa retained its popular modular shape, yet Gaultier transformed the hippie-chic upholstery with his signature stripey sailor-esque canvas. His nautical take on this cult sofa is testament to the brand’s longevity and vitality half a century after its creation. Other accessories in the collection include a divine paravent (that no lady lusting for a little Parisien chic could walk away from) and a veritable explosion of cushions in bold and alluring Gaultier prints. Of the collection, Gaultier explained, “One finds my three big loves in this collection; corsets, sailor stripes and tattoos. It has a feeling of a ‘boudoir’ and is very sensual.”

Indisputably, collaborating with designers such as Gaultier is at the heart of Roche Bobois' success, with many of the creative friendships formed responsible for the company's most iconic pieces. Most notably, the Mah Jong sofa, is still one of the most distinctive and sought after pieces. Equally, the company has nurtured it's own home-grown talent; Christophe Delcourt famed for his 'living' eco designs, speed and movement-inspired Sacha Lakic, Cedric Ragot, Daniel Rhode: all having enjoyed the creative freedom and support from the brand. Older collaborations continue as newer, young and up-and-coming designers join the Roche Bobois roster.

As important as their collaborations, the most intricate attention to detail and utmost care is undertaken at Roche Bobois. Customers can personalise every aspect of their purchase, down to the colour of the thread used in the stitching on a sofa. In fact, the client can even define the type of stitch they desire – simple, double, linear, bias-cut? An essential strand of Roche Bobois' DNA is the extensive range of products, designs and styles, which allow for a personalised touch. The quality of every aspect of the manufacturing process is fundamental to the brand; design, materials and workmanship are never compromised to deliver the perfect final product.

Regional Manager for the North West Roche Bobois stores, Christophe Tremeaux, brands Roche Bobois as a premium furniture brand for the design-savvy client. “Clients buying a Roche Bobois piece of furniture not only want a look, but also quality and comfort,” he explains, “It is a statement.” Tremeaux remained tight-lipped of the company's newest partnership with Sonia Rykiel, deeming it too early to comment, but asserted, “Buying furniture should be a pleasurable experience, and we believe we offer that at Roche Bobois.” In an age of throw-away fashion and constantly shifting consumer trends, Roche Bobois surely stand at the forefront of innovation and relevance in the world of interior design and furniture, delivering at the very least a unique and personalised furniture-buying experience.


More Information

Roche Bobois can be purchased online or in shops across Europe.


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