20 Years of Roman and Williams Design: Hotels, Restaurants, Guild
A few months after Mr. Balazs hired the firm to do the 338-room Standard hotel, Alex Calderwood, a co-founder of the Ace Hotel chain, commissioned it to design interiors at the Ace Hotel New York, a 258-room property inside a 1904 building formerly known as the Hotel Breslin, in the NoMad neighborhood of Manhattan.
The 2009 debut of both hotels — the Standard that March, and the Ace that May — helped establish Roman and Williams as a design firm with range. The Boom Boom Room club atop the Standard, with its curvy banquettes, glossy golden bar and panoramic view of a shimmering city at night, conveyed 24-karat glamour. The rooms at the Ace, decorated with Gibson guitars and vinyl LPs, evoked hipster sophistication.
Business took off from there. Over the next decade, as Roman and Williams worked on private residences, it took on dozens of public-facing projects: the Manhattan restaurants the Dutch, Lafayette and Le Coucou, as well as restaurants in Paris, Milan and Istanbul; Freehand hotels in New York, Chicago and Miami; a dining hall at Meta’s headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif. (Ms. Standefer and Mr. Alesch never worked directly with Mark Zuckerberg, but they said he was “invoked often.”)
Last year, the company debuted its first hotel projects in Europe with the openings of the NoMad London and the Reykjavik Edition. This summer, the firm completed its most recent project: the 53,000-square-foot Tin Building, a market and food hall conceived by the chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, in Manhattan’s South Street Seaport. The workload can be demanding, said the company’s artistic director, Tanya Jonsson, who is one of some 50 people now working at Roman and Williams Buildings and Interiors.
“It’s an intense place to work — we have a lot of projects, and we’re super busy,” said Ms. Jonsson, who joined the company in 2012 as an interior designer. “We demand a lot of everyone,” she added, noting that her colleagues are generally “fans of the work and really excited to be part of the journey.”