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.
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.