The newest addition to Johannesburg’s design centre, Roche Bobois’s Kramerville showroom offers the biggest selection of the brand’s luxe furniture collections on two separate floors.
We’re talking 1 500m2 of lush imported furnishings – with the brand’s iconic Mah Jong modular sofa, in this season’s Kenzō Takada-designed fabric, taking pride of place as you walk through the door.
Acting as the perfect counterbalance to the international furniture on display, the walls of the showroom are lined with art and photography by local artists for sale.
Nicolas Roche, creative director of Roche Bobois Paris, was on hand to help Sandrine and Bernard Fanchette, directors of Roche Bobois South Africa and Mauritius, officially open their second showroom in South Africa, adding to the growing global family which boasts 255 showrooms in over 55 countries.
We spoke to Nicolas Roche, the creative director of Roche Bobois Paris…
When and how did your love of interior design/decor begin? What was the spark?
It started early, as I was raised in a very contemporary setting. This became particularly apparent when, as a child, I would go to my friends’ houses. The contrast was so stark when I compared the type of environment they lived in to my own, where everything was modern, from the sofas to our everyday household items. We didn’t have any antiques! I assume I started to develop my taste from a young age, then. As a teenager, I wanted to keep up with this modernity, and to become an architect; so that’s what I did.
Did you have any reservations taking the helm of your established family business? If so, what were they and how have you overcome them? If not, why?
Originally, the decision (to become an architect) was partly because of my wish to do something on my own which didn’t have much to do with the family business, but still wasn’t too far away. When it came to taking the helm at Roche Bobois, the reservations I had were for instance about turning from a non-commercial activity to a commercial one. Even if this is a talent that you either have or you don’t, the company has grown now, and working with a team gives more strength to my choices.
What do you feel sets Roche Bobois apart from other high-end furniture brands? What has been the key to success?
I think the main difference between Roche Bobois and other high-end furniture brands is the fact that we are not manufacturers ourselves: for any project, we seek out the best person in every field. This allows us to have a very wide offering, which corresponds well with a certain état d’esprit combining creativity, seeking the best quality and a taste for joyfulness and fantasy. Many of our competitors are often a bit stuck with a more conventional offering.
Where do you see interior trends heading? What do think will be the defining elements of this decade – the pieces that will carry on to become this generation’s decor classics? Or has that time passed?
I think we’re heading towards a taste for more and more bespoke products. Even if Roche Bobois is already structured for specialisation and has the capability to answer specific needs, we must go further, using new possibilities in production to meet the evolutions of social behaviours and functions. Also, the improvement of our products from a sustainability and environmental point of view in general is both an issue that our customers demand more and more, and that we want to push.
How would you describe your personal interior decor style – does it reflect in what Roche Bobois offers or is it completely different?
It’s pretty individual, I’d say! As a design addict, I’m a collector at heart. My personal world is composed of many pieces coming from different periods, gathered throughout my life in many different places, while some things have been handed down through the family. But there are also some Roche Bobois items in my home, such as the Ozoo desk (a masterpiece from what I call the plastic years…) and a wonderful Italian wood and glass display from the 1950s.
True or false: every room should have at least one unexpected or unique decor element to make it feel complete.
Yes, but it shouldn’t necessarily be “unexpected”. Rather, such an item should be “personal”, and express the character of the owner.