The Resonance of Tradition and the Luxury of Heritage
By : | November 28, 2016

Isabelle von Boch, the 8th generation scion of the storied luxury brand Villeroy & Boch on what it takes to survive two World Wars and how they have connected with the tech-savvy millennials.


DE: Isabelle von Boch, Fotoshoot Linsler Hof, 2014, Artesano Provençal, Artesano Provencal EN: Isabelle von Boch, Fotoshoot Linsler Hof, 2014, Artesano Provençal, Artesano Provencal FR: Isabelle von Boch, Fotoshoot Linsler Hof, 2014, Artesano Provençal, Artesano Provencal
Isabelle von Boch


Over the centuries, how has the company managed to blend classic styles with contemporary aesthetics? How does the brand manage to remain contemporary as well as classic at the same time?

It is super exciting to be both. First of all, you have to possess self-confidence in your style, in who you are and your personality. V&B has a very strong identity and we feel very strongly about what we do. All our patterns have a personality. We have always been trendsetters and the first ones to come up with something new. By building over centuries of tradition, we have a reservoir that we can tap into. Our DNA is very strong.

Our customers feel secure because they know V&B fulfills their aspirations and they can identify with it. We give people choices so that they feel at home with our brand—choices like our collections that fall into Metropolitan style, Country style, Classic style. In order to have a brand, you have to have a tradition, a culture. Our brand has authenticity, heritage and a personality.

What have been the intangible attributes that have come to be associated with Villeroy & Boch over centuries?

Our vision and creativity; we wouldn’t be here without that. We have enormous resilience, flexibility, innovation and creative thinking in technology. We have survived two world wars and the French revolution. Our biggest intangible strength is to have the self-confidence to continue, to constantly develop and re-invent.

Another intangible is diversification in styles and products. We cover palaces, royal households, but we also cover tunnels and sinks. Flexibility and adapting to the time is our biggest strength. We had to be international at a very early stage. The strength of the brand is the strength of our DNA. We stand taller because we are standing on the shoulders of our forefathers. Our customers sense our heritage. We are very deeply rooted in our tradition and on the other hand stand for innovation when it comes to materials, design and manufacturing processes.

Audun – Designed by Isabelle von Boch’s great great grandfather in the 1830’s


Our business and what we do is not just the business of making plates: It’s about (preserving a) way of life. We are in the business of making people happy while sharing a meal with friends and family.

How have fine-dining set-ups evolved over the years and is there something that has not changed at all?

The desire for fine dining has not changed. But now, the entire concept has acquired a more casual overtone, the casualization of formality. That does not mean people are not formal; but people do dress in a more comfortable way. Similarly, fine dining has evolved and has become more comfortable. Millennials believe in the values of globalization and that has changed dining trends. We have access to global experiences…travel, the digital revolution, new technology (has changed the way we look at things). Now you can eat any kind of food, anywhere you want. We have always had our finger in that pie. We have introduced the concept called Open Stock—which means you can arrange your set the way you want it. We follow a European design philosophy and sensibility, but we are open to global markets. It’s challenging, but we are committed to staying in Germany. Right now, we are exporting to 125 countries, so we are sensitive to global perceptions.

BBQ Collection

What has not changed is that dining still brings people together – especially in these fast moving times today. People are social beings and need communication and socialization.  What also has not changed is the desire for humans to socialize, to celebrate life, rituals and traditions. We want to foster and facilitate these values by bringing lasting quality and beauty into people’s lives .

What are the trends in tableware this season?

People are so much more interested in how to prepare food, where it comes from, how organic and sustainable it is. People are much more savvy and questioning. The trend is to question the origins of the food and to question the company. There is a casualization of formality. The casual is formalized and the formal has been rendered casual. People are freeing themselves and individualizing their tables. You don’t have to have 55 pieces of a set. Nobody wears the same clothes the same way; nobody needs to have the same tableware set. V&B customers can find ways to create their own sets. People are attracted to V&B because of the continental European look.

Pizza Passion Party Plate

Can you tell us a bit about V&B’s new collection? What are the inspirations?

The new collections—the soup bowls, pizza plates are all part of food-centric collections. We are connected with our new millennial customer and our global customer, and introduce products accordingly.


Pasta Passion Collection- a beautiful modern practical design


The Casale Blu collection has a blue and yellow design and is inspired by the hand-painted designs of Italy. Because it isn’t a floral design it has wide appeal among both our male and female clientele. And there is more to be introduced at the biggest international consumer fair Ambiente in February 2017.

What would your table decoration tips be to someone wanting to host a chic dinner at home?

Look at our Amazonia collection with gold rim glasses and gold flatware. I don’t like very tall centerpieces. You should be able to talk across the table.


Amazonia Collection


Always add fresh greens to the table. It could be vegetables or flowers e.g. Pick what is in the pattern and use your inspiration to bring out the reds or blue. Always support the pattern.

Samarah Collection

On the table, place little clusters of small vases. Be creative with the fabric you choose for the table to give it a formal or a casual look. Collect place-mats and runners. In India, I would use silk all day long. Beautiful Samarkand with orange silk would be great. I noticed people in India do not like white that much; they like color, what we offer a lot.

You are the 8th generation descendant of the Villeroy & Boch family. Tell us a bit about growing up in a family that runs an established heritage luxury brand as this? What were the influences on you?

You would expect that a luxury brand’s heir is a spoiled brat. I am one of seven siblings, and when I think of my childhood, we were raised liberally, as free spirits; we were always outside, doing our own thing and without anyone supervising us. Our parents encouraged free thinking, independence; we were raised to be anti-authoritarian and self-confident. We were taught not to follow fashion, but set out own style. We lived in the country and every meal was an experience, that’s all we had. We grew up in a large extended family and amidst friends. At the dinner table, I learned about life, about socializing. All the discussion, all the arguments happened at the table. My parents would always cultivate within us a sense of family and values; and it is still our desire to pass these values on to the next generation. Our discussions at the dinner table revolved around art and music. Business was also discussed. We were encouraged to have an opinion. Business discussions were about creativity and designs. Business in my family has been about creativity and that’s what is reflected in the brand.


DE: Hauptverwaltung Villeroy & Boch, Alte Abtei Mettlach EN: Headquarter Villeroy & Boch, Old Abbey Mettlach FR: L'administration Villeroy & Boch, Ancien Abbaye Mettlach
Villeroy & Boch Headquarters, Old Abbey, Mettlach


Who, in your opinion, is the new consumer base for Villeroy & Boch?

Millennials. As baby boomers, we have raised the millennials. We have instilled values of independence, confidence and free-thinking in our kids. Millennials have a lot of confidence; they are global thinkers. They are totally attached to their technological devices. They take it for granted that everything works. This generation is very fast, they are impatient and they are shopping with their devices. They are shopping in groups, keeping in mind the opinions of their friends and family, and they are connected globally.

Villeroy & Boch, Soup Passion Collection

They are questioning how things are made, where they are made, the how’s and whys of the company, the company’s philosophy. They care about civic values, are very demanding and they appreciate the fact that we have always been environmentally conscious. Since V& B is an emotional product we connect to millennials and customers in general on that level. Millennials, with a lot of information at their fingertips, are in general not superficial or pretentious buyers.

How has the brand been adapting to the new digital age? Can you tell us a little about the brand’s social media and digital strategy?

We are already set up well in the fields of e-commerce as well as social media. The Villeroy & Boch Fanpage on Facebook and other channels like Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram are for example handled by a professional team at Villeroy & Boch. We set up special online teams for these topics like e-commerce, social media and online in general, to win new customers as well as deepen the bond with the existing ones. We are considering the option of selling online in India and our partner Genesis is working on this currently.

 What does luxury mean to you?

Two things: First is alone time. I know it sounds selfish, but I am so much out in the world, so just to read and to be able to listen to music, to go to the beach by myself is a great feeling. I love beautiful things but I don’t need to possess them.

But, at the same time, being with my family and spending quality time with them is important too. My son is in LA and my daughter is in Germany. I miss being with them and spending quality time with them. The biggest luxury in the world is quality time. But the challenge is to create those moments. I like to focus on an environment that lets me relax. My home is my oasis; it helps me relax and focus. To be in my space is ultimate luxury. as my home gives me the space to relax and that is luxury for me. Balance is also luxury. Creating a balance between work and leisure, for instance. Luxury is not something you can buy; you have to feel the moment. When you buy luxury you should be able to enjoy it. Luxury is not an object; it’s how it makes you feel.

Among all the V& B’s collections, which is your favorite and why?



I love the Amazonia; it has this great happiness factor! You can bring happiness into your home regardless of what the weather is. I love Audun; the black and yellow is so elegant, so historical and yet so modern.  Audun is based on the original design by my great great grandfather who created it in the 1830’s. It connects me with my roots.


Among the most recent collections, which are the contemporary collections from the brand that has proven to be a hot seller?




Artesano is neck-to-neck in registry with New Wave for Bridal registry. Internationally, our customers are buying the European experience. NewWave and French Garden are globally most popular.

French Garden


New Wave

Our DNA is traditional, but we are connected to the new customer through our designs, which are constantly evolving. Our new products evoke an emotional response from the consumer.  Artesano and Audun are doing very well in India. Samarkand is also very strong.