The New York Times
What’s in a Name? Generations of Expectations.
Scions of their family businesses are embracing legacies, whether lost or lasting, while tackling a future that their forebears would barely recognize.
Tabloid newspapers and television dramas have sharpened our appetites for horror stories about family businesses, of Machiavellian parents seated on the thrones of their capitalist empires manipulating their power-mad children like chess pawns.
While there has yet to be a legacy design company that could prop up a TV show like “Succession,” many grapple with the transfer of authority to younger generations. Those who inherit the mantle must face a digital, environmentally challenged, globally knitted future, the likes of which their forebears could hardly have envisioned.
In March, Antoine and Olivier Roset were named co-chief executives of Roset SAS, a parent company of the French furniture brand Ligne Roset. Founded in 1860 by an earlier Antoine Roset, Ligne Roset began as a producer of walking sticks and umbrellas. Its current leaders are first cousins and great-great-grandsons of the eponymous founder.
Antoine, 43, joined in 2006 as an executive vice president overseeing Ligne Roset’s North American division. Olivier, 42, arrived two years later as the director of finance and general director. Both now work at the company’s headquarters in Briord, France.
Ligne Roset has long collaborated with emerging designers, and the pair considers putting money into equipment to support new design an essential component for moving forward. “It is key for a manufacturer who wants to be at the forefront of design and development,” Antoine said. Olivier pointed out that a company can give carte blanche to visionary designers only if it is equipped with the technology to produce what they dream up.
In collaboration with a California biotechnology company called MycoWorks, the cousins are developing a new type of vegan leather made from mushrooms. Other companies are experimenting with alternatives to hides, they noted, but Ligne Roset wants to be the first to have a sustainable vegan leather on permanent offer in their products.
At the same time, the Rosets are revisiting furniture perennials, like Togo, a low, cocoon-like sofa designed 50 years ago by Michel Ducaroy. There is even a podcast about its development.
Read the full article by Stephen Treffinger in The New York Times.