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On Display at the First-Ever Roman and Williams Boutique? Anti-Minimalism

The studio's founding collection of furniture and home goods plus a Stephen Starr café are the draw at Guild, an ode to the ethos of imperfection.

The La Mercerie café at Guild.

Known for their mercurial interiors designed for hotels (Ace Hotel New Orleans), restaurants (Upland), and residences (Gwyneth Paltrow), Roman and Williams cofounders Stephen Alesch and Robin Standefer have built their name bringing to life the visions of others. But the recent opening of Guild in SoHo, New York, was a first—a space of their own.

It began as a means to creatively present the founding collection of Roman and Williams furniture, lighting, and home goods—a gathering of designs descended from their hospitality projects or ad hoc prototypes developed in their own home. But then the idea grew. “What was unique about being client-free was flying by our intuition,” Alesch says. “We drew it up and did it, which was a lot of fun, and we made instinctive changes during the process.”

 

The founding collection of Roman & Williams furniture on display.

Intending to make the experience of shopping for furniture more pleasurable, Guild embodies the elements of home that Alesch and Standefer cherish most. Alongside the French-inspired café La Mercerie (helmed by Marie Aude Rose, wife of Le Coucou’s Daniel Rose) and an on-site flower shop by Emily Thompson Flowers, the moody-hued space also includes, art supplies, found objects, works by global artisans, and a painstakingly edited selection of books by Phaidon.

True to Roman and Williams’ penchant for embracing the beauty of imperfections—like uneven textures and exposed hardware—Guild’s design is staunchly counter to the enduring trend of minimalist interiors.  

“Our love of imperfection and exposed fasteners and traditional and articulate detailing is what we believe is the future,” Alesch says. “Minimalistic and abstracted forms are losing their grip as the only modern approach acceptable. Minimalism is stubborn and unsustainable nostalgia for an old midcentury utopian view of a perfect, homogenized, and idealized synthetic world—a futurama. The future will be multilayered and complex and diverse and creative—not just white and clean and void of detail. Using a midcentury term that was popular in the fifties—and this requires an open mind and avant-garde point of view about the future and what it looks like—our work is actually ‘from the future.’ We went there in our dreams and came back to show everyone what it looks like.”

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The exterior of Guild. La Mercerie's ham and cheese crepe.
Seating at La Mercerie.
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