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Roche Bobois Group is extremely sad to announce the passing of its founder François Roche, who passed away on Wednesday October 6, 2021, at the age of 85.
After having actively participated for 50 years in making the company the world leader in the edition and selective distribution of furniture, he left operational functions in 2007 to take the chairmanship of the Supervisory Board of the Roche Bobois Group, until 2019.
All those who met him remember him as a man of talent and an extraordinary personality. As Guillaume Demulier, Chairman of the Management Board of the Roche Bobois group, notes: “François Roche was a great leader, visionary, able to sense trends and seize opportunities. He had a tremendous capacity for analysis and projection. He was also a man close to the field, approachable, committed to the family dimension of his group. "
As a graduate of HEC, François Roche began his career in 1959 in the family store on rue de Lyon in Paris.
Along with his brother Philippe, they worked together with the Chouchan brothers, owners of the “Au Beau Bois” store on Boulevard de Sébastopol in Paris, they had the idea of transforming their main competitors into lasting partners.
In the early 1960s, together, they imported Scandinavian furniture - then at the forefront of the avant-garde. They combined in an unprecedented way furniture and decorative accessories in their stores. They pooled their resources to publish a first common catalog and in 1961 bought their first advertising page in ELLE magazine, sealing the birth of "Roche et Bobois", which would eventually become Roche Bobois. This founding act was crowned with success.
Each of the founders would make their mark on the development of the group. That of François Roche is particularly strong in the areas of creation, finance and the internationalization of the group.
The key word in Roche Bobois’s success, creativity is a value that François Roche defended upon his arrival in the family business.
From the mid-1960s, he was the first in France to import and distribute the creations of Italian designers such as Gae Aulenti, Joe Colombo, etc.
In 1967, he opened the store at 197 boulevard Saint-Germain, in Paris, which would be dedicated to avant-garde design. It exhibited the latest Italian creations and the first edition launches of Roche Bobois with the rising generation of French design; starting with Pierre Paulin, who also signed the daring facade of the neighboring store at 207. An exhibition was organized there around the "hyperseats" of designer Hans Hopfer. Pop artist Guy Peellaert would then collaborate, in the same store, on the installation of plastic furniture by Marc Berthier.
Throughout his career, François Roche would forge bonds of trust with designers who have contributed to the influence of Roche Bobois: Pierre Paulin, Marc Berthier, Luigi Gorgoni, Maurice Barilone then Paola Navone, Massimo Iosa Ghini…. "The role of Roche Bobois in the 1970s is considerable", confirms Dominique Forest, curator of the Museum of Decorative Arts.
For several decades, his eye and his strong aesthetic sense would also allow him to supervise the artistic direction of the photographs which would illustrate the many advertising campaigns of the brand.
While setting the creative pace that he instilled in Roche Bobois, his vision of the market opened up new prospects for international development.
The expansion began with French-speaking countries, Belgium, Switzerland, Canada ... In 1974, the Roche Bobois network expanded in Spain and Great Britain, then a first American store opened in New York. It would then be followed by many others.
These steps would be the first milestones in a formidable international development journey for the Brand in more than 50 countries.