For fans of contemporary, cutting edge furniture, there’s one store that’s been at the top of everyone’s wish list for over half a century. Since 1950, Roche Bobois has grown from a small Parisian store to an international sensation, with over 250 showrooms in 55 countries and a presence in all the most stylish homes in the world. Keep reading to find out more.
1. It all began in 1950
The history of Roche Bobois can be traced all the way back to 1950, the year Jacques Roche acquired the Alexandre Dumas theater on rue de Lyon and, intent on building a new family empire, repurposed it into two stores. Shortly afterward, his sons, Philippe and François, jumped on board, and together, they began to reimagine the company’s development. Believing the contemporary stylings of Bauhaus designers such as Minvielle, Steiner and Airbourne was the future, they began to develop a reputation as purveyors of some of the very finest, and most fashion-forward, furniture in Paris.
2. A national brand by 1960
1960 was the year Roche Bobois went from a small Parisian salon to a national brand. The explanation for the sudden rise in fortunes can be attributed to a chance meeting between Philippe and François Roche and Patrick and Jean-Claude Chouchan at the Copenhagen Furniture Fair. With both sides taken by the contemporary lines and minimalist details of the Scandinavian furniture on display, they teamed up with the plan of importing Scandinavian furniture, textiles, and homewares into France. The decision catapulted the as then-small, regionally-based Roche Bobois into a national presence.
3. Keeping up with the times
Throughout its history, Roche Bobois has always been at the forefront of change. In the 1970s, for example, it sensed the growing shift in how we spent our leisure time (or in other words, the growing eminence of the TV) would change how we used our living rooms for good. In response, it created the “Les Contemporains”, a collection of pieces centered around the new object du jour, the sofa. Its 1980s “Les Provinciales” collection, meanwhile, almost single handily revolutionized traditional French furniture, while the ethnic influences of the 1990s “Les Voyages” collection were as on- point as ever.
4. Global domination in the noughties
By the end of the 20th century, Roche Bobois was already starting to make its presence felt globally. The early noughties accelerated the process exponentially, and within the space of just a few short years, it had expanded across Asia, Europe, Canada, and the US. By 2011, the brand had showrooms in 45 countries. It’s shown no sign of scaling back on its global domination plans since, with each new year seeming to bring a new crop of countries under its coverage. As of February 2020, it now has over 250 showrooms in 55 countries across the world.
5. Big names equal big success
Roche Bobois has never shielded away from investing money in the area it values most: quality furniture from innovative, world-class designers. Since its inception, it’s worked with many of the leading designers and architects of the day, with some of its more prominent collaborations of recent years including The Métropolis Collection with Iosa Ghini, The Ping Pong Collection with Paola Navone, The Comète sofa with Vladimir Kagan, The Rive Droite Collection with Christophe Delcourt, coffee tables with Cédric Ragot, The Furtif Collection with Daniel Rode, and the Ora Ito collection.
6. Mixing fashion with furniture
It’s not only furniture designers that Roche Bobois has jumped into bed with over the years. The brand is as equally willing to collaborate with fashion brands as it is interior designers, something it did to spectacular effect in 2014 when it teamed up with Jean-Paul Gaultier. As Elle reported at the time, the Gaultier/ Roche Bobois collaboration involved a playful re-imagining of some of the brand’s most iconic pieces, with their Mah Jong sofa given a new, high couture cover and their Ben Hur chairs getting their first pair of wheels. Other fashion designers to work with the brand include Sonia Rykiel, Christian Lacroix, Missoni, Kenzo, and Ungaro.
7. Putting its creativity on display
In 2018, Roche Bobois proved its forward-thinking nature once again when it opened La Galerie, an extraordinary, hugely innovative show center (or “creative laboratory”, to borrow the brand’s own words) in Monaco. The center showcases some of the brand’s most inventive collections of furniture, lighting, and decoration, while also serving as a meeting ground and working space for artists and designers keen to show their own efforts to Roche Bobois international clientele.
8. A personalized service
Over the past few years, Roche Bobois has worked to extend its presence in our living rooms. No longer content with simply giving us the pieces we need to fill our rooms, it’s now offering to design the rooms themselves with their Interior Design Service. The service starts with a meeting with an interior designer who will assess your needs, wants and expectations before creating a detailed plan of your interior space, along with a list of recommended products that will match the kind of space you’re trying to create. The next step involves recreating the plan in 3D to give you an accurate idea of what your final space will look like. Once you’re happy with every last detail, Roche Bobois will organize the delivery, installation, and assembly of your furniture for you.
9. Leading by example
For the past few years, Roche Bobois has been one of the leading participants in Dining by Design, a five-day event organized by DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS) that aims to raise funds for AIDS/ HIV awareness by drawing on the resources of the design community.
10. Embracing technology
Roche Bobois is all about moving with the times, something it’s exemplified in every aspect of its development strategy and design concepts over the past half-century. In recent years, it’s embraced every new faucet of technology, with one of its latest launches being an Ipad app that lets customers browse all the latest collections, videos, showroom details, and more besides.