Roman and Williams Studio
After completing Castilian and New Moon, Robin and Stephen closed their Los Angeles office and opened Roman and Williams Studio, a full floor in an old shoemaker’s factory on Lafayette Street, just three blocks from their Fourth Street home.
RS: We were having a great run in LA. We hadn’t worked in New York City for a couple of years. But I just knew we had to get back. If we did it in Los Angeles, Roman and Williams wasn’t going to be all that we wanted it to be. It posed a new challenge: what’s the aesthetic of our office? There’s a whole movement in architecture that says the office should be a white box—you don’t want the space to distract all your creativity. And of course Stephen and I felt the exact opposite. Make it maximalist instead of minimalist.
SA: The office was the birth of our primitive modernism.
RS: And we needed to have an economy about the place because we didn’t want to spend every penny we had. So that combination caused us to say, “What is our modern approach to a studio? What is our refined industrial aesthetic?”
It’s not super spare. It’s not too tech-y. We love walnut, but we love B-grade walnut because it has knots and features and there’s great materiality to it.
SA: We love Moishe’s moving cabinets. Moishe’s is a New York City moving company that has big, red rolling shelves with handgrips cut out of them. I saw them and thought, “Those are fantastic room dividers.” We designed a version of them for basically all the shelves and walls in the office. It’s our version of vernacular modernism.
RS: We did it all ourselves. We went to Massachusetts to an old mill and bought beautiful old glass that has become the infrastructure of our office. We brought back old drafting tables that weigh about three thousand pounds each. And to this day clients get inspired by the office because it’s more of a studio and a laboratory and a place where they can feel our aesthetic, versus just a clean room. We made it like a second home.