Interview with Apparatus Co-Founder Gabriel Hendifar

  • Coming off the launch of their LA Showroom and timely visit to Australia, we caught up with Gabriel Hendifar, creative director and co-founder of Manhattan-based design studio Apparatus.

    Gabriel Hendifar and Jeremy Anderson know how to make an impression and have since they began sharing their sumptuous lighting and design objects. Est Managing Director Miffy Coady briefly met the charismatic duo late last year, when they graced the Thanksgiving dinner held by Criteria Collection under the warmth of their own creations. This was an exciting time for the designers, who had just opened their monastic LA Showroom in Hollywood – one of many brave moves they’ve made over the years. 

    The recent unveiling of the Apparatus Showroom in Hollywood was described as their ‘Californian homecoming’, after the pair moved from Los Angeles eight years ago to New York City to forge a new career. It’s a journey we’ve followed here at est after first sharing Apparatus’ New York showroom and the couple’s unconventional path into product design. While growing to more than 60 employees may have changed things slightly for the brand, artistic and cultural influences still reign supreme, just as the narrative of originality, quality and beauty their soulful objects pertain.

    After admiring their lighting found in so many homes on est, we were fortunate to chat with Gabriel about the beginnings of Apparatus, favouring time-honoured materials, the inspiration behind their unique collections and what’s next for the integral design leaders. Prepare yourselves – a new furniture collection is on the horizon. 

    Gabriel Hendifar and Jeremy Anderson
    Apparatus LA Showroom

    We met briefly at Thanksgiving dinner in Melbourne, when you had just recently opened your LA Showroom. Was this your bravest move to date? Where is the next proposed location for an Apparatus Studio Showroom? 

    Gabriel Hendifar: I think I can say we make a lot of brave moves as a studio. The scope of the projects we take on always feels bigger than the last, and more ambitious – in a new way. LA was exciting because it was such a blank slate, a totally free space to create within, unburdened by existing architecture. It was a challenge and a joy to allow our language to speak within it. We know another location is coming, but we haven’t started thinking about where just yet!

    How do you think your showroom spaces convey the Apparatus quality and ethos?

    Gabriel Hendifar: Our spaces are a big part of our process. Our collections are both informed by and reflected in our exploration of space. I think that we achieve a similar sense of completeness and consideration.

    You began designing lighting in the middle of your own home renovation, to solve a lighting problem for your personal art collection. When and why did you decide to start Apparatus?

    Gabriel Hendifar: Shortly after that Jeremy’s job moved us to New York and there was this moment of freedom in looking at what this new chapter could look like. It was really just through conversations and the support of some friends that we decided to take a leap and start Apparatus Studio.

    What is the importance of materiality at Apparatus and why do you favour time-honoured materials of aged-brass, fine porcelain, leather and glass?

    Gabriel Hendifar: I think I am most attracted to things that feel suspended in time. Pieces that have a bit of mystery around them and feel somehow out of place in reality. There is a tension in that – contemporary forms that feel aged and settled. I think the way we approach this with our finishes and fine materials also creates an elegance around that suspension.

    Apparatus LA Showroom
    ISFAHAN Textile collaboration with Pierre Frey

    You’ve grown to more than 60+ employees. As a studio, how do you collaborate and communicate? 

    Gabriel Hendifar: We have become much more structured and organised in recent years, which has allowed us to grow and maintain the integrity of the brand. We have been able to dedicate people to do what they are best at and enjoy doing the most. Communication is also very structured, but there is still the opportunity for spontaneous meetings and exchanges of ideas.

    Shiraz Orb Group
    Twig 5 Pendant | Hargrave St House by CM Studio

    What continues to inspire your unique collections?

    Gabriel Hendifar: Lasting ideas of romance I think. I find that at some point with every collection I become very aware of a specific character that is occupying my mind, compelling various choices and ideas coming into the work. We are also always designing the collection alongside our spaces that will contain the pieces; in this way we kind of have this 360 narrative at work. For our latest collection as well as the last, we added a short film to the process, which feels like a really rich new layer to play with.

    You’re obviously very influential in the global design community. Why do you think you’re the lighting of choice for many of the world’s most renowned interior designers and architects?

    Gabriel Hendifar: From the start I have felt that it was important to have the studio connected to our showroom. The client and design experience overlap and we really get to connect with people on what they want and what they need for their projects. I think we make work that is easy and fun to use in many different ways, while still feeling like it’s a part of us.

    Trapeze 10 Pendant | Magnolia House by Arent & Pyke
    Tassel Pendant | Magnolia House by Arent & Pyke
    Trapeze 10 Pendant | Magnolia House by Arent & Pyke

    Is there a product you are most proud of or that represents your design approach best? Why?

    Gabriel Hendifar: I’m always most proud of our most recent collection because it illustrates what I think is most important to me about our design approach, and that is the ability to absorb a wide range of artistic and cultural influences and interpret them through a consistent perspective.

    What do you think is the best use of Apparatus lighting you’ve seen in a commercial project? In a residential project? 

    Gabriel Hendifar: Claude Missir used a pair of our SYNAPSE in a dining room above a dining table arrangement by Massimilliano Locatelli. It’s a stunning room and it’s the kind of project you just feel in awe of for its sophistication and freshness.

    Talisman Collection
    Talisman Collection

    You’re exploring new areas beyond lighting; could you please tell us what’s next for Apparatus? 

    Gabriel Hendifar: We will be launching new furniture in Milan this spring, as part of our first group of limited edition pieces.

    Tassel 1 Sconce | Woollhara House by Decus Interiors

    Design insider’s guide:

    Favourite local designers or studios, or artists:

    Gabriel Hendifar: Eric Roinestad, Robert Moreland, Pam Shamshiri.

    Favourite design stores? 

    Gabriel Hendifar: The Line, Garde.

    Favourite galleries and spaces?

    Gabriel Hendifar: JF CHEN, The Future Perfect, The Window.

    Where do you go to look at great design?

    Gabriel Hendifar: Great design is everywhere if you are looking.

    Cloud Chandelier | Louisa House by Templeton Architecture

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