Founded in 2002 by Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch, Roman and Williams Buildings and Interiors is a comprehensive design firm based in New York City. Having worked together for almost two decades, Standefer and Alesch have forged an ability to create projects that consistently find the tension between spontaneity and rigor, refinement and rebellion, high and low, and past and future. Without boundaries or borders, Roman and Williams employs a range of ideas, materials, objects, and references – from the unexpected to the pedigreed to the mundane – and, through the lens of their own singular viewpoint, create alchemy. They explain, “We put seemingly disparate objects together and allow them to simmer to see if we can raise the temperature of a space. Our work communicates that voltage between time periods, cultures, and styles.” Never limited by what they designed last, Roman and Williams aesthetic is constantly shifting and evolving, reflecting the diverse interests and profound curiosities of the firm’s principals.
The result is an oeuvre of instant classics – projects that transcend design and rise to the level of cultural polemics. From The Breslin, a gritty interpretation of pub design, to the Standard’s glamorous 18th Floor Club, Roman and Williams’ work consistently cuts a channel between history and today, weight and light, and gravity and articulation, all while tapping into some cultural collective memory.
Among the firm’s completed projects are: the renovation of spaces within the iconic Royalton Hotel, the Standard Hotel for hotelier Andre Balazs – including the Standard Grill and the 18th Floor Club – and the Ace Hotel*, including The Breslin Restaurant, Stumptown Coffee Shop and the John Dory Oyster Bar – all in New York City. 211 Elizabeth Street**, the firm’s first ground-up building at the corner of Prince and Elizabeth Streets in NoLiTa is a building of such weight and craftsmanship that Manhattan Magazine wrote “Most passersby will think the building has always been there. And Roman and Williams built it as if it always will be.” Residential projects, which Roman and Williams undertakes with the same sense of totality and holism as it does all of its projects, remain a priority. From the aesthetics of the overall project site to the interiors to the decoration, Roman and Williams has designed major residential projects on extraordinary sites around the world, many for important Hollywood celebrities, as well as other pedigree projects, such as the recently completed renovation and expansion of one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most significant Usonian houses. Standefer and Alesch’s own homes, in Manhattan and Montauk, are, perhaps, the purest expression of the couple’s interests and act as design laboratories and inspirations for the firm’s projects. The New York Times called their loft, “an appealing hybrid, as if an apartment from the Apthorp had been reassembled by the furniture designers Pierre Chareau or Jean Prouve.”
New projects currently on the boards and just recently completed include work on a second new ground-up building – a hotel tower – on 57th Street, a major hotel development Project in San Antonio Texas, several prominent new restaurant projects, including a new endeavor with Alain Ducasse and another new project with Andrew Carmellini. The firm’s first retail undertaking with Cole Haan recently opened in soho nearly across the street from Roman and Williams wildly successful design of Andrew Carmellini’s new soho restaurant “the Dutch.” Roman and Williams has also recently launched a product design division and is designing several product and furniture lines, which will, like the firm’s projects, range from the highly refined to the more straightforward and will reflect all aspects of the Roman and Williams’ psyche. Finally, the firm is working on its first book, for Rizzoli, which will be published in 2012.
* Ace Hotel: Winner of 2009 Interior Design Magazine Boutique Hotel of the Year
** 211 Elizabeth: Winner of the 2009 Palladio Award for Multi-unit Residential Project