We came across Elizabeth Roberts, who runs her design practice from her home in Brooklyn, on Remodelista back in February. Here Roberts talks about her work, how she found herself studying architecture at Berkeley to opening up her own practice after working at William Turnbull in Northern California and Beyer Blinder Belle in New York.
1. You are a designer based in New York. Tell us about your background. What led you into this field? In high school I thought about going into architecture. A friend of my mother’s who was an enviably strong woman and feminist suggested that it was a great field for women. Everyone in my family were doctors so in my sophomore year in college I told my mother I’d finally decided to declare my major as “pre-med”. She was silent and finally she blurted out that she’d hoped I would do something with my creative abilities. That summer I spent as an intern at an architecture firm and I studied art in Paris during my Junior year. When I finally decided to study architecture my mother was the one who helped me apply to transfer to UC Berkeley while I was in Paris –I will always appreciate that encouragement from her!
After I graduated I ended up in New York City. It was a recession and there weren’t many jobs out there. One of my professors who I had worked with at William Turnbull Associates suggested that I specialize in Historic Preservation. It made sense. I had spent a few summers as a “site architect” at a dig in Crete and was interested in architectural history. I’m glad that I followed his advice, mostly because I ended up in New York and haven’t left ever since…
2. Your work exudes a warm minimalism and I think part of that is your use of timber in your projects -whether it be a beautiful wood dining table or kitchen island. How would you describe your style? Are you conscious of keeping spaces spare but soft-edged? Yes, I think one of the things that is very important to me is to “showcase” certain elements in a space –to allow enough space and “quiet” around an object for it to be seen. That often translates into wood against a painted surface, or a colorful item beside a white surface.