L’art de vivre à la française: Roche Bobois clocks up 60 years


Bombom - Photo Michel Gibert

From the '60s to the present day, the French brand continues to dialogue with the world with a mix of iconic pieces and innovation. It also looks to the future, channelling sustainability.

A story of two Parisian families, competing, yet brought together by one great passion: Scandinavian furniture. During a visit to the 1960 Copenhagen Fair, the Roches – who had turned the Grand Théatre Parisien, founded in 1865 by Alexandre Dumas in Rue de Lyon, into their shop in 1950 – and the Chouchans – who sold furniture at Au Beau Bois (later Bobois), in Boulevard Sébastopol – discovered and fell in love with the clean, essential lines of Scandinavian furniture, to such an extent that they wanted to introduce it into Parisian homes. Roche Bobois was born of this shared love and intent, and within a year its first joint catalogue hit the shelves, giving rise to a whole new form of selling at national level: franchising.

By 1961, les jeux son faits: the Roche Bobois brand made its grand entrance into the furnishing world, underpinned by a sustained and extensive publicity campaign in Elle magazine. It was an immediate success and their insight in bringing together their strengths, skills and even their surnames, was rewarded by extraordinary sales results.

As domestic spaces and habits evolved, driven in the Seventies by the triumphal eruption of television into people’s homes, sofas took on a fundamental importance. It was precisely this new furnishing must-have that the farsighted brand focused on, its Les Contemporains collection becoming a huge success and ensuring that Roche Bobois became the market leader in upholstereds, its modular, adaptable pieces covered not just with exclusive fabrics but, for the first time, also with leather.

Cherche Midi

Cherche Midi - Photo Michel Gibert

With a constant eye to social evolution, the company’s next step was to focus production on the reinterpretation of traditional French furniture, driven by strong demand for furnishing for second homes. In the Nineties, Roche Bobois picked up on the new trend for mixing different styles, owed to the discovery and diffusion of ethnic furnishings, coming up with the Voyage collection, which deliberately evoked faraway, fantastic lands.

The brand has continued to develop over the years, opening a series of outlets around the world, a steadily growing international network – to date there are 255 shops – and forging increasingly fruitful partnerships with designers, architects and creatives. To celebrate its fiftieth anniversary and its solid international success, it launched a successful collaboration in 2010 with the stylist Jean Paul Gaultier, enfant prodige and icon of French haute couture and the first to elevate street fashion to luxury, with a show at Les Halles, one of the roughest districts in Paris during the Eighties. The well-known journalist and writer Philippe Trétiack also produced an important book, its glossy pages illustrating half a century of Roche Bobois furniture and accessories, both ambitious and functional, responding to a precise concept of design: the design à vivre that distinguishes the brand. Later collaborations include other great fashion giants, from Missoni to Christian Lacroix Maison and Kenzo Takada.


Underline - Photo Michel Gibert

2020 marks its seventieth anniversary, celebrated with Bombom, a collection of sofas and accessories designed by the Portuguese but Paris-born artist Joana Vasconcelos, the first woman and the youngest artist ever to be invited to exhibit at the Palace of Versailles, in 2012. It’s a vibrant, optimistic and brightly coloured collection that hinges on the scale and colourways of the objects, and channels the dual role of creativity and savoir-faire with which Roche Bobois has always been associated.

The last seventy years have also featured partnerships with leading design protagonists Pierre Paulin, Marc Berthier and Olivier Morgue early on, then Hans Hopfer in the Seventies with the iconic Mah-Jong sofa, distinguished by its modular components and floor cushions and still a best seller. Special editions have been produced from time to time, such as Kenzo Takada’s Noh Theatre ancient kimono-inspired version, Missoni’s multicolour stripes and zig zags and Jean Paul Gaultier’s sailor-style, or poetic and graphic tattooed motifs.

The long list of other designers who have been part of Roche Bobois’ creative stable includes Stephen Burks, Massimo Iosa Ghini, Ora Ito, Jean Nouvel and Marcel Wanders, as well as leading fashion houses such as Christian Lacroix Maison and the afore-mentioned Jean Paul Gaultier and Missoni.


Aqua - Photo Michel Gibert




Bubble - Photo Michel Gibert


Eden-Rock - Photo Michel Gibert

Mah Jong

Mah Jong - Photo Michel Gibert

Collezione Angel

Angel Collection - Photo Michel Gibert



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The brand keeps step with the times, devoting much attention to developing eco-conceived collections and constantly working to perfect the environmental impact of existing ones: fundamental elements of a responsible approach in line with company philosophy, first explicitly exemplified in 2006 by the Legend collection. While retaining its dynamism, French brand also puts the accent on the digital world, inviting clients to view and personalise the products they are interested in in real time, in order to integrate them into their spaces ad hoc.

The French brand takes part in a large number of international cultural initiatives, and is now essentially identified with two macro-collections - Les Contemporains, an expression of the most cutting edge furnishing and interior decoration trends, and Les Nouveaux Classiques, inspired by more classic French furniture, reinvented and reinterpreted.