Montagnieu, 1860, near the French Alps in the Rhône region. Antoine Roset has figured out how to make bent wood walking sticks, and followed that up with more slender wooden spokes for umbrellas. Flash forward to 2015, and the modest company he founded remains family-owned, something the latter-day Antoine Roset, all six feet four inches of him, is understandably proud of. “We have really grown, it is true, but always we stay true to what the original Antoine was doing,” he says. “Functional, but stylish.” He bites approvingly into a croissant newly arrived from Beaucoup Bakery, right around the corner from the Livingspace studio where he had, the previous evening, hosted the launch of Ligne Roset‘s new furniture and accessories lines. “As good as Paris,” he says.
It was a seminal year for the company in 1936, the first time they produced upholstered furniture. And after the Second World War, the company was an integral part of, in effect, rebuilding, but also redesigning France. The shift towards design and away from strictly manufacture came a bit later, and today, Ligne Roset collaborates with over 50 highly respected designers to create unique pieces that, while being decidedly contemporary, have that sometimes elusive something special Roset is clearly proud of: “Honestly, this is some of the most comfortable furniture in the world.” He is looking squarely at a Togo sofa, designed in the 1970s by Michel Ducaroy, an icon of foam construction and quilted covers that remains a best-seller to this day. Inga Sempé’s interpretation of quilted covers keeps the eye from wandering elsewhere in the room. Didier Gomez, the design superstar, has done the Hudson, Fend, and Exclusif sofa lines, along with chairs and side tables.
Mauro Lipparini is prominent in the Ligne Roset selections of storage units, dining tables, and chairs. Pascal Mourgue and Pierre Paulin have contributed remarkable chairs, as well. “Not every line is as popular in all parts of the world,” says Roset. “But we spend a lot of time with our retailers, before we actually engage with them, so that each market receives the best attention we can provide.” At this point, retail locations number 1,000 worldwide, with another 207 fully dedicated Ligne Roset stores as well. “I do travel a lot,” Roset says, smiling. “It is vital that we understand and appreciate the clients in each market where we work.”
The majority of designs, of entire collections, tend to run “three to five years,” in availability, he says. After that, customers seem to be moving on, wanting the next great new thing. There are, remarkably, several exceptions, like the Ducaroy sofa, and the remarkably simple, elegant Peter Maly bed. With its adaptable headboards and independent positioning, it is ideal for smaller spaces, and continues to sell well, into its third decade. Roset surveys the studio, and comments softly, “It is about beauty and comfort, something we have kept alive in the family all this time.” Just one look, and it is easy to understand exactly what he saying. Easy to agree.