Roche Bobois: Meet Creative Director Nicolas Roche
Nicolas Roche, the creative director at Roche Bobois, took some time out to share the brand’s eco-conscious approach and the latest collections now available at the new showroom in the iconic Cape Quarter in Cape Town.
I had the privilege to meet with Nicolas in Cape Town recently and listened to his presentation in-store, which was an absolute inspiration. When I left the store in De Waterkant, which oozed of French ART de VIVRE, I walked up to my car and couldn’t help having visions of the Eiffel Tower in my head, but I came back down to earth when I saw the backdrop of Table Mountain in the distance. The French furniture brand marks 61 years in business this year and is known for its whimsical style and ritzy collaborations. What a glamorous showpiece the local Cape Town store is to behold as it proudly showcases the latest contents in a truly World Class Standard.
Nicolas, a former architect, joined Roche Bobois in 2005. He grew up in a design-driven family; sadly his father, the creative legend, passed away this year. We kickstarted our discussion with fond memories of the iconic design pieces and the influence his father had in their creation. For instance, The Mah Jong sofa which seems to be the most memorable furniture piece boldly stands out as you enter the showroom. Designed by German furniture designer – Hans Hoper in 1971, Nicolas reflects on the era when low-slung, super-wide, ultra-plush seating was popular and covered in a simple grey fabric.
The configurations you could play with really allows your imagination to explode! Today this iconic design is still in production and has stood the test of time. The base is still there but the fabrics options have all changed. Now – in the collaboration with top fashion designers and creators – the fabric ranges provide the perfect canvas to make the current Mah Jong range a spectacle to behold.
So what is Roche Bobois’s design identity?
NR’s attention to detail has ensured that the family tradition is carried to further heights. His knowledge of functional strong design detail in identity and the use of objects mixed with available technology in design ensures that the brand continues to be a leader, recognised worldwide and sets them apart from the rest of the brands in Europe with branches in Europe, America, China and SA.
When you are investing in a piece of RB you are buying into heritage – a heritage with an identity and a story! A designer collection that carries the fundamentals of what true design is all about!
Nicolas enjoys the fundamentals and being in contact with various natural materials like stone and wood. He loves the expression of designs that express talented craftsmanship. Exploring new technology is key. This allows Roche Bobois to create and explore many new custom-made products for designer pieces. For example, Corail dining table base that stands as a statement piece on entering the showroom is 3D-printed in concrete. This allows the freedom of design to be adapted to the exact shape and aspect required. For the iconic Bubble sofa, a special supple fabric was developed to further enhance the curved shaped bubbles.
Collaborating with many designers from all over the world, NR has worked with so many! So, who would be his favourite? A difficult one to answer it seemed to me. However, Nicolas explains that he appreciates all designers’ work and he receives many proposals from designers from all over the world. He makes a special mention however that he often looks for designers whose style and design match RB philosophy.
Fashion designers such as Christian Lacroix worked with him for many years. He has also worked with Jean Paul Gaultier at their 50th celebrations – 11 years ago. Nicolas explains that it was wonderful to be a part of his fantasy and his understanding of the use of fabrics in design. Just like Kenzo Takada.. This is the benefit of working with fashion brands and designers. Marcel Wanders is known for his eclecticism and spirit. It’s a lifestyle where fashion and furniture blend together in harmony.
You live, work and play in your home, just like you do wearing an outfit. Your home is an extension of your personality – a piece of furniture is bought for quality and icon heirlooms.
As a renowned French brand, Roche Bobois continues to move forward in an eco-conscious direction meeting environmental standards. As such, they are very aware of the environmental impact of the business. They, therefore, developed the Eco-8 Guide as a continuation of the process started through the addition of the Legend Collection created by Christophe Delcourt in 2006. This method is constantly being improved and implemented to minimise material wastage and RB is proud to lead the industry with a number of notable eco-friendly initiatives that have helped improve the environmental effects of various parts of the manufacturing process.
What we can look forward to in South Africa at Roche Bobois?
Since 2009, Roche Bobois has organised a design competition to take place in a different country every two years. The aim is to seek out talented young designers and to give them the opportunity of exposure at the outset of their career.
In 2022, Roche Bobois is more than happy to come back to the African continent and to hold the 9th edition of the Roche Bobois Design Awards in South Africa.
For more visit Roche Bobois.