Field Trip: Roman and Williams Guild by Lydia Manalo

As soon as I read about the opening of Roman and Williams Guild in Architectural Digest, I knew I had to visit. 

There was a moodiness and warmth to the photos that spoke to me.

And, it was obvious that I would have to immerse myself in that environment in order to fully understand the design intent.


RW Guild is the brainchild of designers Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch, a dynamic husband and wife duo who began their creative relationship while working in the film industry. They bring years of experience (and an impressive body of work) as owners of the firm, Roman and Williams Buildings and Interiors, to this new venture.  

These are skilled designers that are interested in the richness of history and how that history shapes modern design.

As Stephen mentions in the podcast with Garance Doré, they are striving to create spaces that are “a little healing” in their essence. Spaces that are “real” and authentic. They are concerned with the connection between people and how people relate to spaces. Perhaps it is this “realness” that spoke to me most.  


And, as I entered La Mercérie, the French café within the Guild, this authenticity was clear. This isn’t a space trying to be something it’s not. La Mercérie “feels” authentically French (even in the middle of SoHo) and authentically modern. The finishes (including those amazing blue, mohair sofa banquettes) are as luxurious as the food. The trompe l’oeil paintings are pastoral and soothing while juxtaposed with the glossy finish of the walls.

The experience within the cafe is a treat in and of itself!

As a designer, though, I couldn’t wait to peruse the furnishings, accessories, and lighting within the store.

Every furniture piece within the store was designed by the couple.

These are furniture pieces that are rich and thoughtful in their design and materiality. Some are so beautiful they could simply stand alone as a piece of art (the Slab bed is the perfect example of this).  


The “guild” concept is evident in the collected approach to their accessory line. They feature pieces (primarily pottery and sculpture) from various countries including France, Sweden, and Japan. And this “guild” idea harkens back to the time of trade guilds when skilled artisans expertly honed their craft.

This is a beautifully curated group of accessories that serves to punctuate the clear point of view of the designers.

And, as a result of putting so much of themselves into this project, I left feeling as though I had just met two of the most talented, interesting people out there.