The Aesthete: Nicolas Roche talks personal taste

As a former architect, Nicolas Roche brings conceptual rigour, technical nous and a passion for modernism to his role as creative director of Roche Bobois

Nicolas Roche at home in Paris
Nicolas Roche at home in Paris | Image: Magali Delporte

My personal style signifier is my grandfather’s 1930s Boucheron watch. I love its petite size, which gives it an unusual, unisex touch. Its design and period style match my taste for vintage objects and their capacity to pass emotional values down the years. I wear it alongside contemporary pieces such as the metal, 3D-printed Softline 1 Loop bracelet by Inorganic Jewels. £295,; 

Roche’s 1930s Boucheron watch that was his grandfather’s
Roche’s 1930s Boucheron watch that was his grandfather’s | Image: Magali Delporte

The last thing I bought and loved was a Citroën 2CV. It was made in 1960, the year I was born, so I couldn’t resist it. I bought it from a 2CV-lover on the Côte d’Azur, and drove it from Nice to Toulouse, which took nine hours at an average speed of 25mph. I love it because it has no anti-lock braking, no airbags, no seatbelts, no fuel injection, no air conditioning, no electric windows, no central locking, no stop and start, no GPS – and no problems. 


A recent “find” is the Hôtel National des Arts et Métiers in the 3rd arrondissement that opened this summer. It’s designed by Raphael Navot and is a wonderful mix of modernity and historical references, light and shadow, with materials ranging from simple to sophisticated. It’s the first hotel I’d choose to stay at in my own home city. From €300; 243 Rue Saint-Martin, 75003 Paris (+331-8097 2280;

The Hotel National des Arts et Metiers in Paris
The Hotel National des Arts et Metiers in Paris | Image: Jerome Galland

The best gift I’ve given recently was an original Ozoo desk, designed by the French architect Marc Berthier that I found on It’s made from moulded plastic, with little sections for pens and books. I gave it to my father, François, as a tribute to the wonderful and successful collection he developed with Berthier in 1967 – one of the first collections of plastic furniture available to the public. Similar at

The Ozoo desk, designed by Marc Berthier
The Ozoo desk, designed by Marc Berthier | Image: Magali Delporte

My favourite room is the bedroom in my 1920s listed townhouse in the 19th arrondissement, because of its high-pitched roof – it’s in the gables – and the dark blue ceiling, which I find very soothing. 

White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose), 1950, by Mark Rothko
White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose), 1950, by Mark Rothko | Image: Bridgeman Images Artwork © 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko/ARS, NY and DACS, London

The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was a pair of Robinson Les Bains swim shorts. I like the vintage-style stripes – somewhere between Paul Smith and the patterns on early-20th-century Deauville bathing suits. From £140; 


The site that inspires me is the Forum. You can’t help but feel the forces of those who rose to lead an empire for centuries; it’s an incredible symbol of civilisation expressing itself through architecture, urbanism, arts and art de vivre. 

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose the Marais in Paris. I go to BHV, the indispensable store for homewares; Galerie Dansk for vintage Scandinavian design treasures; Trippen, which sells inspired men’s shoes; and the Marché des Enfants Rouges for its cosmopolitan mix of grocers, fishmongers and exotic restaurants. BHV, 52 Rue de Rivoli (+339-7740 1400; Galerie Dansk, 31 Rue Charlot (+331-4271 4595; Marché des Enfants Rouges, 39 Rue de Bretagne (+331-4011 2040). Trippen, 40 Rue de Saintonge (+331-4348 1807;  

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Mark Rothko. His harmonious, yet irregular, accumulation of textures and colours has the exact degree of abstraction that sends my mind dreaming.

The places I rely on for personal grooming are the hairdressers Les Intondables (“unclippables”) – a sort of post-rock misfit place frequented by every type of local, none of whom ever seems to age – and the Centre de Danse du Marais, where I bravely attend a Martha Graham modern dance lesson once a week. It’s nothing too technical; I’m just trying to control my energy and maintain suppleness in an artistic way. Cut from €31, Les Intondables, 40 Avenue Simón Bolívar, 75019 Paris (+331-4239 0271). Centre de Danse du Marais, 41 Rue du Temple, 75004 Paris (+331-4277 5819;

My favourite website is, for identifying flowers and plants. You upload pictures of plants you find, and the database and community responds to tell you what they are. 

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