Inside Roche Bobois’ New Back Bay Showroom
A former bank in the Back Bay is transformed into an inviting new Roche Bobois showroom.
Inspired by the designs of the Bauhaus and other modernists, the French furniture line Roche Bobois creates pieces that are refined and detailed; furnishings are sleek and contemporary in style but with a relaxed nature, making them coveted lounge pieces. The luxury maker launched in the early 1960s, and the first Boston outpost was established in 1974.
After inhabiting a few different spots in the city over the years, Roche Bobois was in the Leather District for over a decade. “It was a good area for us to be in at one point,” says Pierre Berardo, Roche Bobois’s Northeast general manager. But foot traffic had dwindled in recent years, and most of the brand’s competitors were in the Back Bay.
By spring 2021, Roche Bobois had secured space in the neighborhood as well. Once the lease was signed for 5,400 square feet of the Park Square Building on Arlington Street, work to reconfigure it to suit Roche Bobois began in earnest. Architect Leslie Saul designed the build-out of the space—a former bank. “The safety deposit boxes had been located in the basement, and there was an elevator and beautiful stairway that took you down to that level,” Saul says. To meet all the showroom’s spatial needs, the stairway was taken out.
A mishmash of five different types of flooring was removed and replaced with gleaming oak that was also used as vertical cladding. There’s a “green” plant wall, and large windows on three sides of the building bring in abundant natural light.
Saul has worked on build-outs for five Roche Bobois locations in Boston and Natick, making for a pretty seamless design phase. “The plans for the store design concept are created at Roche Bobois headquarters in Paris,” says Saul, noting that her team is tasked with interpreting them in a way that can be built here. While there were a few supply chain issues, the space opened within two months of its target date in March 2022.
The intent of the showroom’s atmosphere, says Berardo, is to relieve the stress of going to a high-end retailer. “We put in a huge fireplace to give a sense of warmth and to make people feel at home.”