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Roman and Williams book: Designs for A-list hotels, celebrities

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December 05, 2012|By Alissa Walker
  • For the lounge at the Standard, Alesch and Standefer designed a sleek, glamorous Modernist lair using supple leather and beveled glass. "Like dropping a Lautner house into Manhattan," Standefer said. The trick to the sumptuousness of the space? "There's no exposed drywall," she said. "Always put a texture on the ceiling, always put a texture on the columns, so there's a tactility and a reflectivity to all your surfaces." And that doesn't mean paint, Alesch said: "Fabric, mirrors. If we paint anything, we prefer it to be plywood underneath." Even the coolness of the city below becomes a texture thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows.
For the lounge at the Standard, Alesch and Standefer designed a sleek, glamorous… (Rizzoli )

There's a reason you feel like cameras are rolling as you're traversing the dramatic, richly layered hotels designed by the firm Roman and Williams. Husband-and-wife principals Stephen Alesch and Robin Standefer met in L.A. while working in production design for films such as "Zoolander" and "Practical Magic."

A fireplace that the duo had designed for the Ben Stiller-Drew Barrymore comedy "Duplex" — richly glazed Craftsman tile, ornate peacocks carved out of walnut — caught the eye of Stiller, who was in the midst of a renovation at his own home.

"We were using real wood on the set, and he said they were using fake wood at his house," Alesch said.

PHOTOS: Ideas to steal from Roman and Williams' 'Things We Made'

When Stiller showed Alesch and Standefer the plans for the actor's Spanish-style home in the Hollywood Hills, the couple offered to essentially art-direct the project for him. Over the course of a weekend, Alesch drew new gorgeous watercolor concepts, Standefer gathered together a lookbook, Stiller hired them for the renovation, and Roman and Williams (named for Alesch's and Standefer's paternal grandfathers) was born.

Since then, the firm has produced interiors for high-profile projects such as the Ace and Standard hotels in New York and, most recently, the book "Roman and Williams Buildings & Interiors: Things We Made" ($75, Rizzoli). It's a compellingly handsome book that celebrates 10 years of their narrative-driven interiors — visual conversations peppered with high design, found objects, natural materials and industrial rarities. And the designers give ample credit to their Hollywood roots.

"Film gave us a lot of bravery for how to approach these projects," Standefer said. "I think we've realized how much objects are like characters."

On a drizzly and appropriately cinematic morning at the Chateau Marmont, Alesch and Standefer shared their inspiration, sources and philosophies for 10 of their designs.

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