Established in 2009, Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch of Roman and Williams has been churning out tenacious restaurant designs in The Big Apple and beyond. Strong believers that architecture and design should be substantial and meaningful, not precious or arbitrary, the duo met while working in Hollywood as production designers and art directors where they designed more than 20 films, creating elaborate and historically inspired sets. Standefer was even handpicked by film director Martin Scorsese to be the visual consultant for several of his films. Take a peep at three of our favorite eatery designs from the multidisciplinary team after the jump.
Stumptown Coffee Roasters has an outpost in the trendy lobby of the Ace Hotel in New York. The duo decked out the walnut bar and enormous light with brass trimming, high-gloss painted wood shelves that are stacked with vintage coffee makers and jars, and flooring got clad in travertine.
Detail of the tubular lighting.
Exterior view of the 522 sq. ft. coffee shop.
On the corner of Prince and Sullivan in SoHo lies The Dutch restaurant. A former "leafy corner" that housed the Cub Room for years, Roman and Williams completely renovated the restaurant to have three main dining areas. Inspired by early SoHo, American roadside diners, and Scandinavian modernists like Alvar Aalto, the result is a fresh, cool take on an American classic—a familiar place that is timeless and will age well.
White brick walls and high glossed ceilings clad the interior. At the bar, open wood-and-metal stacked shelving stores various restaurant wares, such as glasses, matchbox jar, and mini condiment containers.
"The entire space is an exercise in looking both forward and back, in combining the formal and the informal—from the history of the space, to the eclectic menu, to the mix design references inside."
The Dutch's view from outside.
For Facebook's Menlo Park, California headquarters' mess hall, the pair describes their ethos as "a combination of their parents’ ’60s rebellion and their grandparents’ Depression-era rigor and hard work." Both expressing an interest in "anti-design," the designers focused on stripping things down to their essence. As Stephen describes, “With the Facebook guys we shared an interest in all things analog—the reliability of it, the common sense of it, the simplicity of it.” To recreate a camp-like atmosphere, the ceiling was deconstructed, framing exposed, and slick black tables and bar level booths filled the space, along with exposed lightbulbs and exposed rivets.
The 24-hour dining and social space for Facebook's 6,000 or so employees.
Instead of design, Roman and Williams strove for simplicity and transparency. Rows of exposed light bulbs line the ceiling.