Celebrating a decade of incredible work, Roman and Williams' Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch signed copies of their new book Roman and Williams Buildings & Interiors : Things We Made with some friends and a gallery of shots in the lobby at Ace Hotel New York last week — you can grab signed copies of this beautiful tome on our shop. We’re old friends with Robin and Stephen, and our studio director, Eric, and interiors maestro Loren worked on the Roman and Williams team when Ace Hotel New York was taking shape. They had a chance to sit down with Stephen and Robin amidst the mayhem to ask about the book, their work together and the subconscious.
Robin and Stephen, you still appear from time to time in Eric and Loren’s dreams. Do you find that creative collaboration spiked with a sobering dose of real business tends to dye the subconscious in this way, and do all the collaborators and team members you’ve had continue to affect your psyche?
Well everything that’s difficult tends to dye the subconscious and work itself into dreams, and we are and always have been difficult. We are proud of that tradition. Easy things are forgettable and have no impact –- no staying power. No dream or haunting qualities ever came from something easy.
The title Things We Made speaks to a sort of portfolio of finished products, however we know how important the process of design is, and how imperfections in that process go into your work, aka “fucking things up.” Will readers get any insight into this rebellious stance?
We hope so! We really put so much work into creating a book that would give insight into our ethos –- where readers could get a sense of us as people, not just our projects. We included hundreds of drawings –- we even drew on the drawings. And the text is a series of conversations, rather than just descriptions.
The book celebrates a “decade of design” — what do you hope the next decade will bring in terms of your studio and practice?
Even more humanistic, careful and unpretentious design. We hope to spread the warmth that the Ace embodies. We’d love to design an airport or a hospital in a way that would move people. The International Style, and what it has bred, and benign contemporary design have made for boring, dreary places that need to me be made more interesting –- interesting for everyone, and not just for architects and designers.
We love your beautiful spot in Montauk — how did the garden do this year? For the green thumbs out there, what’s your favorite vegetable to grow?
It was a hot summer and the garden was absolutely prolific. This year, we built eight-foot tall towers for our tomatoes and we grew eight different varieties. We have been harvesting them well into late October. We never thought they would grow that high – but they did –- they could have grown another few feet even! Our peppers also did well this year because of the heat.
We love growing cabbages, artichokes, and brussell sprouts -– vegetables that take two years to harvest. It is fascinating to watch the process -– how the vegetables grow over one summer, how they retract over the winter and then explode the following spring into super vegetable power.
We’ve also love growing medicinal plants like Angelika, Wormwood and Echinacea, which we like to use. We could go on …
In the act of making things there are many people involved in the process, especially with international projects internationally. In your experience, are Americans still good at “making things”?
Absolutely. American manufacturing almost disappeared — another price of the post-war obsession with cheapening architecture and design. It focused on zero craft and lack of detail. American manufacturing is known for being meaty, strong, simple and good. Things we love. We try to support American craftsmanship as much as we can. It is hard to convince developers and owners to pay more for things made in this country, to pay for things that last longer, but we do the best we can. Whenever we build something for ourselves, this is always the case.
We blessed to call you family and we’re honored to call you friends — excited to see what the next decade brings.
We feel the same about the Ace team. The world is a better place with Ace in it. Thank you. So proud to have had our book party in the Living Room! It’s the project that’s closest to our hearts. Thank you!
Photos from the Billy Farrell Agency
Photo by Justin Kent.
Photo by Eric Laingel.
2009 was full of good things. In the Spring, Ace Hotel & Swim Club hotel came to Palm Springs. Ace Hotel New York, Stumptown, and The Breslin opened in the summer. We’ve been getting a lot of flattering winks and catcalls from the press. Here’s a selected list of honors from 2009:
+ New York Times T Magazine : The Decade in Hotels Although not the first Ace, the burgeoning brand’s second property was the first full expression of an aesthetic and philosophy — eclectic Americana, accessible prices, the cult of local, handmade, vintage, curated — that continues its reign in the worlds of design, fashion and culture. Ace Hotel Portland.
+ Wallpaper Magazine : Best New Hotel in the World, Nominee Laid-back and filled with vintage finds, the Ace is effortlessly cool…With the hotel’s walls lined with works by local artists, and a fully stocked Smeg fridge in each room, this is NYC at its best. Ace Hotel New York.
+ Interior Design Magazine : Designer of the Year With its coffered ceiling, Greek key mosaic-tiled floor, schoolhouse pendant globes, and vintage commercial signage, the dimly lit lobby is grand and mysterious yet relaxed and idiosyncratic. Roman and Williams are celebrated for their work with Ace Hotel New York.
+ Conde Nast Traveler : 2009 Hot List A definitive guide to the world’s most exciting new establishments destined to become instant classics. Ace Hotel & Swim Club in Palm Springs.
+ Details Magazine : The 10 Best Hotel Bars in the World At this quirky, black-walled grotto heavy on the vinyl and chunky wood furnishings, Monday nights feature Linda, the hostess at the restaurant next door, calling bingo and belting out show tunes. The Amigo Room at Ace Hotel & Swim Club in Palm Springs.
+ Time Out New York : Best New Hotel Lobby Bars When the Ace Hotel opened a New York outpost last spring, it brought with it the city’s first Stumptown café, guaranteeing early-morning crowds in need of artisan coffee. But the massive space, its soaring ceiling punctuated by trunk-thick columns, has ended up having more than just a.m. appeal; it’s become a popular spot for all types, at all hours. The lobby bar at Ace Hotel New York.
+ Cool Hunting : Top Five Collaborations of 2009 When designers and artists team up to multiply their talents, the end result is sometimes greater than the sum of its creative parts. Ace Hotel New York collaborates with L. Gambert, Converse, Coto, Surface to Air, and others to create staff uniforms.
+ Biz Bash New York : Four Stylish New Hotels The first New York outpost of a Portland, Oregon-based property, opened in May and sports an eclectic look with vintage furnishings and custom artwork. Ace Hotel New York.
+ Live The Desert Life : 15 Best New Restaurants in the Valley Locally grown and organic food, inspired but never pretentious, in an atmosphere of buzzing excitement, like the most amazing backyard barbecue you’ve ever been to. King’s Highway at Ace Hotel & Swim Club in Palm Springs.