Words: Lin Stranberg
This year, Roche Bobois introduced the new Corail dining table, a breakthrough innovation made with large-scale 3D printing technology, customized to match the customer’s unique vision. This bold new innovation is set to change the relationship between consumers and design, and between the industry and its distribution.
The Corail table features an organically shaped base in ultra-high performance concrete (UHPC) with flowing curves that supports a tempered glass top, so the interior of the base is clearly visible from above. Its name translates to coral, which it somewhat resembles.
“We turned to the team of Fritsch and Durisotti as design collaborators,” said Cindy Susilo, Roche Bobois marketing director. “We had worked with them in the past. They had a nautical design background, having designed kayaks and amphibious boats, with the technical expertise that was the right fit for this project.”
Since its beginnings as a Parisian furniture store more than 60 years ago, Roche Bobois has collaborated closely with both design professionals and customers. Most of the items in the product line are customizable in their dimensions, fabric and leather choices as well as in many materials and finishes.
The Corail dining table nudges customization to the next level. When choosing a Corail, a customer can literally design their own table within the parameters of the base design. Using 3D software on the Roche Bobois website or in-store with the help of a Roche Bobois advisor, customers become the designer, choosing the shape and size of the tabletop and the shape, size and complexity of the base, from minimal to exuberantly baroque. And they can apply as much as they wish of the beautiful woven effect the printer will create, wherever in the design they want. Through the configurator, they can see the result come to life.
Purchasers become a force in the design process, the creators of their unique model. Their choices are saved and represent the “genetic code” used by the printer. Once this code has been entered into the printing unit, the 3D automaton is activated. In a continuous upward movement, the digitally operated nozzle pours out a ribbon of concrete in coiled layers, according to the code. The concrete coils harden during the layering process and the base, which takes about half an hour to produce, needs about 10 days to fully dry.
The process is aligned with the Roche Bobois approach to eco-consciousness, which has involved the development of an assessment tool they call Eco8 used to measure the environmental impact of their products. The goal is to produce Corail tables locally. Right now, they are made in France, and it is envisioned that eventually Roche Bobois will be able to simply send a digital file to a local printer equipped with the technology, and considerably reduce the carbon footprint by cutting down on transport.
3D printing, a process of making three-dimensional solid objects from a digital file, has been around for awhile. It is additive in the sense that it creates an object by laying down successive layers of material, rather than subtractive, which involves cutting or hollowing out a piece of metal or plastic using a machine, for example.
It uses less material and can be done wherever an appropriately sized 3D printer is available. Because it streamlines, simplifies and reduces the costs of designing furniture, it has radically impacted the furniture industry. As has often been the case, Roche-Bobois is among the first to use this process to innovate new breakthroughs in furniture.
For example, the Mah Jong modular sofa—now an iconic piece that furnished the outdoor space for nominees and presenters at the 93rd Oscars in Los Angeles—marked a breakthrough in design when it was first created in 1971.
Designed by painter/sculptor Hans Hopfer, the Mah Jong introduced a new freedom in function and form. The pieces could be configured as a sofa, armchair, lounge chair or bed and could be customized with fabrics from internationally-renowned designers. The Mah Jong sofa transformed the concept of furniture. It was a nonconformist design that really took off in those nonconformist times. It was radical then—and is still hugely popular now.
For the 93rd Oscars, Roche Bobois collaborated with the award-winning Rockwell Group, creating various compositions of the Mah Jong modular sofa in an outdoor fabric from MissoniHome. Using the Mah Jong groupings and Cute Cut cocktail tables, fresh and silk florals and lantern lighting, they created a sophisticated and whimsical outdoor space for the exclusive use of the nominees and presenters, in a cool colour palette inspired by the original tile work at Union Station, where the event took place.
This year, Roche Bobois celebrates 50 years of the Mah Jong sofa.
“The Mah Jong has been our number one bestselling sofa in Vancouver and Calgary year after year,” said Ray Deleurme, who has owned the Roche Bobois showroom in downtown Vancouver for 17 years. The brand itself, which has been in Vancouver for more than 35 years, is well-known and has a substantial following of devoted clients.
“Customization is a very popular feature,” Ray said. “Our clientele is exacting and they know just what they want. And with our vast collection, it’s very rare we can’t find something for every client. I am very excited to bring the Corail table to our showroom. I think it is set to become another iconic Roche-Bobois piece and will be the first step in an exciting new direction.”
Cindy Susilo enthusiastically agrees. “The Corail table is opening the door to a variety of exponential possibilities.”
在第93屆奧斯卡頒獎典禮上，羅奇堡與獲獎的Rockwell Group合作，用Missoni Home的戶外面料創造了各種組合的麻將沙發，并且與Cute Cut雞尾酒桌、新鮮的絲質花卉和燈籠照明，營造出一個精緻而奇特的戶外空間，供提名人和主持人專用，其冷色調的靈感來自活動舉辦地聯合車站原始的瓷磚裝飾。
今年，羅奇堡慶祝麻將沙發誕生50週年。在溫哥華市中心擁有羅奇堡陳列室17年Ray Deleurme說：”Mah Jong一直是我們在溫哥華和卡加利最暢銷的沙發。這個品牌在溫哥華有35年以上的歷史，早已眾所周知，擁有大量的忠實客戶。”
Cindy Susilo 大表贊同：“Corail餐桌為家具行業又打開一扇大門，帶來無限可能性。”