The history of French brand Ligne Roset, why we love design hero Michele de Lucchi and a cultural chinwag with Simon Wallis OBE, director of The Hepworth Wakefield
Known for making cutting-edge furniture by the world’s top young talents, this French firm has been innovating ever since it was founded in 1860 Most people familiar with Ligne Roset associate the brand with one piece: the 1973 ‘Togo’ sofa by Michel Ducaroy (above) – it was the brand’s first launch under its current name and is now regarded as an icon of 1970s style. Far fewer know that the company’s origins go back to 1860, when 19-year-old Antoine Roset opened a wood-processing factory near France’s Swiss border, in an area known for its beech forests. To begin with, Roset made walking sticks and parasol handles, but when parasols went out of fashion, he turned his hand to making chair frames instead. By the time Antoine’s son Emile took over in 1910, the firm was making cane seating – and in 1936, it produced its first upholstered chairs.
Emile died in 1946. Under his heir, Jean Roset in the 1960s, the brand really began to flex its design muscles. Its catalogues from the period show brightly coloured lounge furniture in fashionable linear shapes. Emboldened by their success, Jean shifted his focus to the domestic market in 1973, renaming his company Ligne Roset and opening
Ligne Roset’s 2017 range includes striking designs by more new names, including a stylish take on the sofa bed
a series of retail stores. A commitment to championing the work of young designers commenced when Jean picked out Michel Ducaroy, a recent graduate, to create the ‘Togo’ sofa.
The 1960s and 70s saw Ligne Roset capitalise on its cool credentials with a series of Pop-style seating designs – including Bernard Gauvin’s ‘Asmara’, a series of undulating lounging islands – and trendily shot advertising (right). This period also saw Jean’s sons, Pierre and Michel, join the firm – they are now CEO and general manager respectively.
Ligne Roset’s 2017 range includes striking designs by more new names – such as Ukraine’s Kateryna Sokolova, whose ‘Oxidation’ tables ( below) are made of patinated metal and Tuscan stone – and German duo Müller & Wulff, whose ‘Berlin Loft’ (right) is a stylish take on the sofa bed. As always, the pieces are all true originals ( ligne-roset.com/uk).