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Shortly before they began work on ‘Duplex’, Robin and Stephen spent three weeks in India, where they got engaged in a temple full of flowers and monkeys. The trip was inspiring. They saw hand-carved marble and hyper-detailed mosaics. They marveled at the way Indian architecture and religion melded seamlessly. They came home and poured everything they had into ‘Duplex’, which called for “pure architectural pornography.”
RS: We went for it. We made custom tiles in the shapes of peacocks and custom-stained glass and millwork with beveled windows. We celebrated traditional forms and reinvented them.
SA: There were hundreds of pieces, moldings, traveling around every room.
RS: We were inspired by the Aesthetic movement. We took our favorite nineteenth-century New York brownstone elements and put them into what we felt was the most extraordinary uber-building we could create.
SA: Louis Tiffany meets Whistler’s Peacock Room meets our dream apartment.
RS: All in one.
SA: Ben would constantly comment on how beautiful the set was. He said, “My house is like a set; this is like a house. My life is in reverse at the moment."
RS: We had a telling moment together. He was acting; he stepped away and talked to us about helping with his place because he loved the set. We had created something very complete. We cared about every detail – even how it smelled – and it moved him.
SA: We went over to Ben and his wife Christine’s house one evening, and we looked, and it was just a mess. He had just finished a renovation.
RS: It was clear they’d put in a lot of time and money.
SA: The construction was hollow and thin. Ben was going to this beautiful set during the day and then coming back home to a space that wasn’t inspired. He asked for some sketches, and we spent one intense weekend putting together drawings and renderings and then presented them to him and Christine, and they said, “Yes, let’s do it.”
RS: It changed our lives. We never did another film after that day.
SA: We relocated to L.A., and we stayed there while we built Castilian.