With a background in film, Roman and Williams, the design firm founded by Stephen Alesch and Robin Standefer, incorporate a deep level of understanding for storytelling and immersive experience in much of their work.
“Roman and Williams brings a level of human-focused design and narrative to each space they create,” said Tom McAlpin, CEO of Virgin Voyages. “We thought their perspective would really help us to define and tell the Virgin Voyages story.”
They have designed a number of prominent hospitality spaces like The Chicago Athletic Association in Chicago and the Viceroy Hotel in New York City as well as personal residences for notable celebrities like Ben Stiller, Kate Hudson and Gwyneth Paltrow. They were named among Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business in 2016 and were also awarded the Smithsonian’s prestigious National Design Award for excellence in Interior Design.
“To partner with Virgin on this project,” said Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch, lead designers at Roman and Williams, “the making of a journey and an experience worthy of one of nature’s most beautiful models – the sea - is the pinnacle of experience and hospitality design.”
It was their work on the revolutionary Freehand hotel-hostels and New York City's perennial hotspots The Gilded Lily nightclub and The Boom Boom Room at The Standard Hotel, that made them the natural first choice for designing Virgin Voyages’ own onboard nightclub, The Manor.
“The Boom Boom Room and the Gilded Lily have an interesting thread that connects them,” said the Roman and Williams’ designers. “Though one is above the canopy of the city, and one markedly below it, both tap into our collective human desire to be around kinetic energy at nighttime.”
Inspired by Richard Branson’s first-ever Virgin music studio of the same name, the creative, dance music-fueled space has been expertly outfitted with details, platforms and corners that make it both somewhere to see and to be seen.
“...an experience worthy of one of nature's most beautiful models - the sea - is the pinnacle of experience and hospitality design.”
Roman and Williams also created a very different area on the ship, The Dock, an outdoor lifestyle space with a focus on comfort, social life and an appreciation for the ship's gorgeous views.
As a firm, Roman and Williams is credited with disruption in the hospitality industry by creating an alternative to the ‘boutique’ hotel. It was immediately clear to the Virgin Voyages design team that they would be ideal for bringing a fresh perspective when entering a new industry like sea travel.
At Virgin Voyages, the vision has always been to create a “ship of contrasts,” made up of one-part refined and one-part casual. Through design, Roman and Williams tells that story naturally. In the designers own words, they consistently work to pinpoint these tensions. “That balance of rigor and of spontaneity, of compression and expansion, of formal and of irreverent, is something we’re keen to find ourselves in the middle of.”
We couldn’t agree more.
“That balance of rigor and of spontaneity, of compression and expansion, of formal and of irreverent, is something we're keen to find ourselves in the middle of.”