Q&A with Roche Bobois owner Isabella Grayfer

Sherry Beck Paprocki
Columbus Monthly
Isabella Grayfer relaxes in the showroom of her recently redesigned Roche Bobois store at 858 N. High St. Roche Bobois is based in Paris and Grayfer has been affiliated with the company for nearly 40 years.

Isabella Grayfer is the owner of Roche Bobois, a high-end French design and furniture store in the Short North. Next year she will celebrate 40 years of bringing a unique sense of European style to Columbus.

How did you get started in the furniture business?

I was working at a small Bexley design studio and meeting with clients.I saw a big demand for a good quality contemporary furniture store, which did not exist in Ohio. At that time in the U.S., there were very few stores that were importing contemporary furniture from Europe. I decided that I should do it—and over 30 years later it has proven that it was worth it.

European furnishings have a cool factor that's hard to find elsewhere. Why do you think they are so popular at this point in our history?

I think European furniture is popular because it offers a new lifestyle and a little piece of history. At Roche Bobois, each furniture piece is made in artisan workshops, with attention to every detail, letting our know-how shine through.

If someone can't afford to redo an entire room, how should they get started?

There are many ways to get started by choosing a quality sofa or armchairs to match your existing décor, or choosing a striking accessory like a floor lamp or a colorful vase which can make a statement all on its own.You don't have to furnish an entire room to make a statement.

During your years of working with people who are furnishing their homes, what are the common mistakes most often made?

One mistake I see often is that customers don't always realize the many options available to them.Our interior design team takes clients through the process, step by step, to make sure they not only get what they need, but also what they love.

How can people make their homes unique to their own style?

One way to truly own your style is through customization. [Roche Bobois] has a choice of shapes, colors, leathers, woods and finishes that make each furniture piece unique.

You travel to Europe at least once a year, right?

Yes, I am in Europe at least three to four times a year.The most exciting part is getting to discover the new collections. We have two collections a year, similar to the high fashion industry. Usually the brand offers two exclusive collections: Les Contemporains, which encompasses the contemporary feel of Roche Bobois … and Nouveaux Classiques, which offers a contemporary take on classic designs with reinterpretations of period style.