Roman and Williams: A Space of their Own

6 years ago by

Warning you – you will hear me falling in love during this interview. As a former New Yorker, I have been personally touched by Roman and Williams‘ beautiful interiors because I’ve lived in them – restaurants, hotels – and even a certain night club. So many of their spaces witnessed some of the most meaningful moments of my life. I always try to start my interviews with an open mind, and ignore any exceptions based on their work but Robin and Stephen still totally crushed me with their joy and enthusiasm. As you know, what I love to see behind the works of people who I admire are the personalities, the lives and the lifestyles that fuel them.

From the big ideas to the little details, there is nothing in Roman and Williams universe that I don’t find truly inspirational. They just opened their first store ever, The Guild, in New York of course, and this is where I met them, a few days before the opening.

[podcast_episode episode=”263219″ ]

Roman and Williams Pardon My French Atelier Dore

Garance Dore Pardon My French Atelier Dore

On how they work together…
Stephen: We really fold into each other and I’m constantly editing and butting into the decorative things and she’s constantly butting into the architecture and the shapes of the rooms and the heights of the ceilings.
Robin: I think it’s about that narrative and storytelling. We both come together over the codes and stories a space tells and that objects tell.

On what they loved about working in film…
Robin: One thing I loved about it was the sense of authenticity. You studied different social and anthropological spaces, whether it’s a gas station, a French woman’s house, a restaurant, a bathroom or a painter’s loft.
Stephen: The good guys or the bad guys. More than design which is secondary to the anthropology of a person’s story.
Robin: Narrative became such a big part of our lives working in film.

On opening their first store in SoHo…
Spending a lot of my young adulthood in this neighborhood makes this especially meaningful. To see the transformation of SoHo, and this side of SoHo near Canal Street, which is really having a renaissance and rebirth and to have our space together here where things were made and people were merchants, manufacturers and artists, is very special. We found this space, which was the oldest department store in NYC, opened in 1857 and was called the Marble Building. We are always interested in looking for spaces with great bones and a great story. Growing up here and it having that kind of spirit and soul, that was very special for us.

Roman and Williams Pardon My French Atelier Dore

Roman and Williams  Pardon My French Atelier Dore

Roman and Williams Pardon My French Atelier Dore

On what they look for in a space…
Stephen: We’re not just trying to decorate in the theme of something like Italian or French. When we travel, we’re always looking at the vernacular, which is the trial and error, the ritual, the scale and movement of the space, more than just the cute color and details. It’s the essence of the space. As Americans, because we’re a relatively young country, we’re always changing and starting over, it feels like we’re starting over every 10 years instead of building a tradition. Robin and I both always have this lust, desire and envy for a little more stability and reliability we see in older cultures.

On being proud of their work…
Robin: Our authorship, and I’m very proud of this, has stayed strong enough that often, not always, people will tell us they are amending something in one of our spaces, and they want us to be part of that.

On loving their spaces…
Stephen: I know it sound egotistical, but I would love to spend time only in spaces we’ve made, looking at buildings we designed. It’s my inner architect, wanting to control the world!

Roman and Williams: A Space of their Own

Roman and Williams Pardon My French Atelier Dore

Roman and Williams Pardon My French Atelier Dore

On the idea of creating Guild…
Robin: It started out a decade ago and we had this joke together about a center, a center for goods. Not so much a general store, but something more elevated, a real beautiful center welcoming people into a home, not a hotel, not just a restaurant, but a place where you could be and experience what home is about.

On the meaning behind the name La Mercerie…
Stephen: It’s such a coincidence to a certain extent. This is Mercer street and it was named after a general in the American Revolution. But there is also the second meaning that “mercer” relates to ” to string” or “to thread.”

On shopping for furniture…
Robin: Shopping for furniture always seemed like a completely disjointed experience. It was something people shopped for like appliances, as if it was a chore instead of something that was absolutely a beautiful experience. We were thinking of experience as our primary goal and we had been developing this collection of furniture and didn’t want to sell it in this traditional way of a normal furniture store because it’s disjointed and expensive. It’s like you need an end table and you think, “where do I go?” but you don’t think it’s this wonderful experience on a Saturday!

Roman and Williams: A Space of their Own

Other things discussed…

David Salle
Addicted to Love
Santo Loquasto
The World of Interiors

The Roman and Williams flagship, Guild, is now open in SoHo. Special thanks to La Mercerie for letting us record this episode. Guild carries the Founding Collection from Roman and Williams, as well as other items from around the world and beautiful flowers by Emily Thompson. Be sure to check out the latest on Instagram and Facebook!


Add yours
  • Amazing and inspiring interview! Only something is wrong with the link in the first parafraph.

  • Veronica McCarthy January, 9 2018, 9:12

    Thank you for the catch! It should be working now. xx

  • Sunny Side January, 9 2018, 2:59 / Reply

    Wow…leur insta me donne envie de peindre, leur site est si inspirant, ce lit en bois est une merveille et la Mercerie (ce bleu) un lieu si chaleureux. Hâte d’y aller ! Je comprends qu’ils créent un tel enthousiasme, tout donne envie ! Merci pour cette découverte.

  • Lovely, grounded, and inspiring. They touch on history of space, and creativity in such a unique, and honest way. As an Indian girl in America I totally get what they say about the perpetual search for history that draws Americans to create. I visited India, which is so beautiful, and old and new at the same time, and had a pang of nostalgia for all its loveliness. I think America is just as beautiful in a natural way. One finds it when we look for it. It has a clean palate which I love after coming from the sensory overdose of India. Design comes out of these tensions- this interview made me realise that. Bravo Atelier Dore! Keep it real:) Warmly, A

  • Sasha Bolle January, 9 2018, 1:33 / Reply

    Garance, I love your interviews…they are real, your guests are real, and there is so much substance in each episode. Thank you.

  • I love the image of a couple folding into each other to build traditions in great spaces.

  • Ummm I haven’t even finished the podcast yet but did I hear Garance say ‘I met my husband there…’!!!!

  • Mercedes January, 10 2018, 7:41 / Reply

    I’ve got very inspired. Their creative energy trascended the laptop and filled up my room. Super deep conversation. Thank you!

  • Jessica Forsythe January, 12 2018, 9:56 / Reply

    This has really moved and inspired me, thank you. We need more of this in the world.

  • Carlisle Young January, 12 2018, 1:17 / Reply

    Love your site

  • Lovely podcast, one of my favorites!

  • thank you for this beautiful interview!

  • Fell in love with a chair at a restaurant (Upland), found out it’s R & W, and ended up here! Will check out the store soon :)

  • Je regrette que vos interview ne soit plus filmé I

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