The story begins with a few dizzying figures. Ligne Roset is a family tradition that dates back more than 150 years. It is also a collaborative effort involving more than 70 creative designers from around the world, from beginners to established stars. The company operates out of five industrial sites with a combined total area of 120,000 m2. How big is that, exactly? Take all the exhibit halls in the Grand Louvre, and multiply it by two! It all happens in these vast spaces: tapestry making, sewing, carpentry, leather and fabric cutting—everything that goes into designing, manufacturing and marketing the company’s products (lamps, rugs, furniture and accessories), plus head office operations. The facilities are all located in Briord, just east of Lyon, in France’s Ain department, which is where the business was born. In fact, the decision to stay and expand in Briord binds the company to its community, and makes respecting the environment and employee well-being top priorities.
Now a symbol of elegant French living, Ligne Roset began modestly when Antoine Roset began making umbrella handles at the age of 19, in 1833. But fashion can be cruel and fleeting. When women began setting aside their parasols, Antoine adapted, and started producing chair frames. Then came whole chairs. He had found his niche, and his family followed in his footsteps. After his death, his wife carried on the business, even naming it Établissements Veuve A. Roset after herself! Son Émile took the business over from his mother, then came his son Jean, whose sons Pierre and Michel currently run the operation. When a company and a family share the same DNA, it solidifies the corporate vision, and creates the kind of symbiosis that can take a business far.
One of the key characteristics of Ligne Roset is its enormous respect for design and designers. Following WWII, the company’s bread and butter was institutional clients, such as schools and hospitals. Things changed in the early 1970s, when Jean Roset saw the value in focusing more on a private clientele, given the exciting changes of the time. He began working with designer Michel Ducaroy, who created a slew of new models that were met with great success. More than 1.2 million sales have been recorded for the Togo lounge chair alone! Created in 1973, this comfy, cushiony chair has been redesigned several times, and yet it is still a record seller. Of course, Ducaroy would not be the only successful designer to work with the Roset family: Pierre Paulin also introduced a number of pieces that have been re-issued over the years, a testament to the quality of their design. A little later, the company confirmed the wisdom of placing their trust in designers, adding new names to their list of collaborators. These included Didier Gomez (master of the sofa), Pascal Mourgue (whose chairs have become classics), and Peter Maly (one of the first to reinvent the bed). Ligne Roset continues to count on creative input, working with a new generation of talented young designers, such as Inga Sempé, Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance and brothers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. The furniture manufacturer is also looking to young, less well-known designers to ensure their future. The whole design aspect of the company is essential to its modus operandi: “Investing in creativity is the main intuition that has led to our success,” says Ligne Roset. It has also led to many accolades, such as the 2015 VIA Labels, and the Red Dot and Good Design awards, to name a few. It’s no accident that the brand now has a presence in over 70 countries, and that 60% of its sales are international.
The remarkable thing about Ligne Roset is that they have kept pace with technology while never losing sight of the human craftsmanship that is at the very heart of the company. In its manufacturing facilities, skilled craftspeople are in charge of making furniture. Some steps are automated, of course, but all employees are required to undergo several months of training so that the specific know-how can be transmitted. It takes a great deal of love for the craft, not to mention dexterity, to assemble all the pieces of a sofa! This combination of modernity and tradition constitutes the true strength of Ligne Roset, which also keeps a close finger on the pulse of fashion and other trends in order to offer consumers products to which they can fully relate. That customer connection can be traced back to 1973, when the company was “re-founded,” taking the name Ligne Roset, creating a strong brand with a solid distribution network. Given the company’s take on vertical integration, where needs, desires, creation, design and know-how merge and evolve together, the choice of the word “Ligne” was certainly not by chance.