September 2015


‘Experience’, as a theme deeply resonates with much of the new Roche Bobois collection.

Nicolas Roche: this theme expresses the true graphic trend within the collection. When we present bookcases such as Helis by Philippe Bouix or Pollen by Sacha Lakic, we want to provoke visual sensations.

Helis was designed to surprise us, to make us look twice. At first glance there’s something not quite right about it, it looks as if it’s falling out of the wall so it intrigues us, rather like a puzzle. Similarly Cedric Ragot’s Suspens table tells a story of tension: the surprise comes from the fact that the feet seem to want to escape to the outside, and the fineness of the table top defies our expectations too. Booleanos, with its asymmetric wonky-looking shape causes us to question its stability and the the Rosace pieces, with facades covered in a dynamic three dimensional faceted material, whose effects change and glimmer in the light, attracts our attention.

This is the experience we want our products to create at Roche Bobois: to defy expectations, to provoke feelings and to establish a dialogue between the design and the user. 

What are the other major trends in this collection?

Nicolas Roche: Comfort, which has always been fundamental to Roche Bobois, but with a modern definition. Today we want “to see” comfort; a sofa’s appearance should make me want to sit on it. The Octet sofa by Roberto and Maurizio Manzoni Tapinassi, for example, looks like a huge pillow. And beyond usability, there is the comfort of use. We no longer sit down on a sofa simply to watch television, we read and work there on our tablet or computer; it needs to be multifunctional. Finally there is a trend I call “fifty / fifty”: both inspired by the 1950s but with a very contemporary style. This is the case for Tempus, the chair designed by Simon Reynaud or the Lieto dining table by Roberto Tapinassi and Maurizio Manzoni. 

This new collection also has many pieces designed by the late Cédric Ragot. It seems that the collaboration with him was truly exemplary?

Nicolas Roche: Over and above the personal loss, I’ve lost a creative ‘collaborator’, someone I would speak to and work with daily. Cedric pushed the boundaries and brought a breath of fresh air to our collections and to our network. Over ten years I made around 50 pieces with him including chairs, tables, coffee tables, sofas, lamps, rugs, vases ... there was always a new project in development. His creativity and talent were boundless yet still he questioned very carefully every aspect of his design, a true perfectionist. That could be challenging at times and I had to explain that not every design idea will work and it’s okay for there to be a few mistakes along the way.

There was a common thread though that ran through the very heart of his creative output: his designs challenged conventional wisdom but never became stylistic.

His creativity involved fierce intelligence. Cedric paid great attention to the technical feasibility of his designs and enjoyed involvement in the manufacturing aspect. He was keen to understand the processes of ceramic-making and to learn about injection moulding techniques (as with the Loop chair). His diligence and creativity are reflected in the truly beautiful pieces that he designed for this new collection, such as the Suspens table and Nonette lamps.