Rowan & Williams NYC Store

While you may not know this firms name you have probably have been in a public place that have designed.  They are extremely talented husband and wife team based in NYC.  Up to this point all their work has been commercial ,  residential and commissioned.  Now they are opening their own retail store in NYC next month.  Check out this article where they discuss the idea.  This should be a special store and worth visiting.

In Honor of Its Upcoming Store, Roman and Williams Shares Its Tips for Creating a Compelling Space

Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch of interior design firm Roman and Williams.
Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch of interior design firm Roman and Williams.Photo: Sebastian Faena

There are certain places that, upon entering, totally transport you. Spaces whose interiors are designed so thoughtfully that they can’t help but transfix. The Chicago Athletic Association, for example. Nantucket’s Greydon House hotel. Or, Le Coucou in New York City. With an eye candy palette of vintage and modern objects, dazzling lighting, artfully crafted furniture, and alluring art, these places feel somehow timeless yet modern, familiar yet undefinable, all at once. If you’ve been lucky enough to visit any of these places, you know exactly the feeling of awe their interiors inspire.

These places, as well as many others—including the Top of the Standard and the Ace Hotel in New York, La Rotonde de la Muette in Paris, and the Freehand hotels in Miami, Chicago, and Los Angeles—are the brain children of New York–based interior design firm Roman and Williams. Founded in 2002 by Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch (a duo who in person are as charismatic, energetic, and appealing as their work suggests), the firm has become one of the most sought-after and admired in the industry, with a list of accolades that includes a National Design Award and, most recently, a James Beard Award (for Le Coucou, which was named Best New Restaurant, 2017).

With all the buzz that surrounds its projects (which also includes set design for films like The Age of InnocencePractical Magic, and Zoolander and residential design for celebrity clients like Gwyneth Paltrow and Ben Stiller), it’s no wonder that the firm has developed a dedicated cult following of design aficionados and interiors enthusiasts who wait with baited breath to see what they’ll unveil next. This November, those fans will be especially chuffed when Roman and Williams launches one of its most intriguing projects yet: a flagship store in downtown Manhattan called Roman and Williams Guild NY. “Here, we’ll share our line of furniture, lighting, and accessories, as well as items collected from workshops around the world,” Standefer says of the retail concept named after the historic department store that originally occupied the Howard Street location. But in true Roman and Williams form, the flagship won’t just be any old run-of-the-mill home goods store. “Because we want the space to reflect the way we live, it will house a café, a bakery, and a flower shop. It’s an extension of our home, of us—a center where we share a world of quality, beauty, and authenticity,” she explains.

In light of the exciting news, Vogue visited Standefer and Alesch in their New York studio where they shared their secrets for sourcing unique items, mixing the old with the new, and creating a compelling space. Read on for their tips, as well as a peek inside their gorgeous workspace.

Robin Standefer’s office at the Roman and Williams studio.

Robin Standefer’s office at the Roman and Williams studio.Photo: Courtesy of Christina Pérez

What are some favorite sources for finding unique home objects and furniture?
 We favor the idea of discovery when searching for pieces; it’s experiential and spontaneous. From travels in Morocco to a recent trip that we took to Stockholm, stumbling upon studios and shops, the process happens naturally. We follow our curiosities.
 
At times we’re looking at shops that don’t always have a web presence, but eBay[who the firm recently partnered with] is certainly a place where we can find wonderful objects: unexpected and exceptional.

The space or project can dictate the sources. Each has its own distinctive personality—whether it’s Gwyneth Paltrow’s home or Le Coucou here in New York, there’s a story within each space we create and that narrative leads us to explore a variety of sources.
 
As we seek and find for Roman and Williams Guild NY we’re thinking about how we live and the objects we want to be surrounded by daily. We’re ultimately sharing our way of seeing and we always try to inspire people to do the same.

A collection of ceramics in the Roman and Williams studio.

A collection of ceramics in the Roman and Williams studio.Photo: Courtesy of Christina Pérez

What are some items you’re on the hunt for currently? Is there anything you’re always collecting?
 
The bulk of our recent hunting activity has been focused on Guild NY, but we are always seeking out objects that are masterfully made, at a granular level.  We’re not focused on any specific “type” of item per se. We are assembling a refined cast of characters from visionaries in a specific field and craft. We are gathering objects that speak to an elevated quality we admire.

As we are always seeking to master the mix, we are currently obsessed with a few intriguing objects and textiles from Swedish embroidery, Japanese ceramics in white, to cast-metal objects in silver and bronze.

We found some wonderful examples of castings on our trip to Stockholm and we are working on a line of candlesticks inspired by that journey as we speak.

Vintage art and prints line the walls in Alesch's atelier.

Vintage art and prints line the walls in Alesch’s atelier.Photo: Courtesy of Christina Pérez

When shopping antiques or vintage, are there certain qualities you’re looking for? How do you know something is worth purchasing?
 
There’s a level of skill and craftsmanship that we look for, but we also trust our eye. There are objects that can move us, objects that can evoke a feeling. We trust genuine attraction, and that’s where we find real worth. If it matters enough to us, we will pursue it wholeheartedly.

The Roman & Williams studio.

The Roman & Williams studio.Photo: Courtesy of Christina Pérez

What advice do you have for someone who is new to shopping for interiors and for vintage and antique home items? Are there certain things to think about or to avoid?
 
Hone your point of view. Observe and study. Give yourself parameters or develop a collection to connect with materials. You can do this by focusing on collecting something that moves you, that connects you to a place, color, or material. For example, slipware is a technique for creating ceramics with the most wonderful graphic designs. They can be found in Great Britain or in Japan; they are incredible! Find a region, an era, a technique, an object or furniture that resonates with you and allow the rest of your choices to build from there.
 
It’s also important to be patient with yourself; choosing objects you love and making it all work at once can be a lifelong project. Tastes and interests can continue to evolve and refine. Let this process modulate and take risks when you feel confident. These risks are what help to define a room or a collection—they give it identity.

A meeting nook lined with books in the Roman and Williams studio.

A meeting nook lined with books in the Roman and Williams studio.Photo: Courtesy of Christina Pérez

What items or types of items or combinations do you think make for an intriguing space? What tips do you have for making a space feel personal?
 
Creating intrigue in a space stems from the unexpected; that might be found in the convergence of high and low objects, or in the underlying tension created when discordant elements are harmoniously arranged. Pay attention to what you respond to, be it small-scale details or large-scale materials. Seek to discern what is well-made, and what isn’t. Understand where you find value, what compels you—and remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect. This has been our practice; it’s mastery of the mix.