EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ROCHE BOBOIS FURNITURE
When it comes to vintage Roche Bobois furniture, luxury and timelessness are two words that spring to mind. Like fellow French maker, Ligne Roset, Roche Bobois is responsible for crafting stylishly modern pieces with an avant-garde edge. If you’re on the hunt for chic, modern French furniture a Roche Bobois sofa or Roche Bobois chair may be just what you’re looking for. Intrigued? Learn more about this iconic modern brand below.
THE HISTORY OF ROCHE BOBOIS
Both a furniture designer and leading furniture distribution, Roche Bobois is perhaps best known for its modern, aerodynamic furniture clad in luxury leathers and suedes, as well as its killer designer collaborations with a wide range of designers and design houses, including Christian Lacroix to Jean Paul Gautier.
Roche Bobois was founded serendipitously in 1960 when the Roche brothers, Nicholas and Francois, crossed paths with another set of brothers, Jean-Claude and Patrick Chouchan, at a trade fair in Copenhagen, Denmark. Each of the families already owned and operated furniture shops in Paris which specialized in distributing luxury furniture sourced from high-end designers. The Chouchans sold furniture on a street in Paris known as Au Beau Bois (see where this is going?). Given their striking occupational similarities, the brothers collectively decided to join forces and launch a national franchise known as Roche Bobois. One year later, the brand launched the first Roche Bobois ad in Elle magazine and became fully established.
The first big-name designer to create an exclusive collection for Roche Bobois was Pierre Paulin. Paulin, who also designed the iconic Orange Slice Chair, created a unique collection of office and bedroom furniture for the brand. Among the collection’s most stand-out designs was a plump, padded chair that resembled a slightly dented jet-puffed marshmallow. Plush and oh-so inviting, the chair provided a base-line aesthetic for the brand. It's influence can still be seen in many of the brand's later offerings, such as the Bubble Curved Sofa, a sculpted, balloon-like sofa designed by Sacha Lakic. In 1967, French designer Marc Berthier debuted his collection, introducing Roche Bobois’s first plastic collection. The collection turned out to be a watershed moment for the brand, as plastic has since become one of Roche Bobois's signature materials. Among the most iconic designs form Bethier’s collection was the Ozoo desk, a lacquered fiberglass desk with molded indentations intended for office tools. Today, the desk looks like a precursor to Kartell's signature plastic tables and chairs.
In the 1970s Roche Bobois responded to the growing desire for sofas with a collection of Roche Bobois sofas known as “Les Contemporains.” The collection was such a success that the brand launched two subsequent Roche Bobois sofa collections in the 1980s and 1990s. Both were met with similar accolades, cementing Roche Bobois's reputation as a modern sofa authority.
THE MAH JONG, THE ULTIMATE ROCHE BOBOIS SOFA
When you’re talking about Roche Bobois, it’s nearly impossible not to mention the Mah Jong Sofa. Designed by painter, sculptor, and designer Hans Hopfer for the brand in 1971, the Mah Jong is hands-down Roche Bobois’s most recognizable piece.
The design is simple. It consists of just three pieces: square, tufted floor cushions, and bolstered back cushions that come in straight and curved versions. When used together, the cushions can be stacked to create any number of formations, including standard sofa shapes and sectional sofa shapes. “The principle is you can buy as many or as few as you want and that you’re not locked into any particular shape,” said Hopfer of the design. “You can make it any way you want.”
As if near floor-level lounging wasn’t enough of a draw, Roche Bobois saw the Mah Jong’s cushions as a potential canvas for some of the world’s most wow-worthy prints. While examples of this Roche Bobois sofa were often covered in standard paisleys and colorful corduroys that spoke to the bohemian spirit of the 1970s, later examples were outfitted in designer fabrics by haute couture royalty like Missoni, Jean Paul Gautier, and Kenzo Takada. The sheer number of designers who have applied their talents to the iconic Roche Bobois sofa, ensures that hunting for vintage Mah Jong sofas is the best kind of treasure hunt.