Interview by Scott A. Sant’Angelo
Photography courtesy of Apparatus Studio
Originally published in Issue No. 2
Apparatus is a Manhattan based design studio whose reputation is on the rise for very good reason. We find their work to be superb, majestic, and decadently resplendent. We were lucky enough to interview 36 year old Co-Founder and Creative Director Gabriel Hendifar about his latest offering, ACT III which just debuted at Fuorisalone 2018. Hendifar’s parents left Tehran for Los Angeles as political refugees in 1979, two years before he was born. He’s had a longtime urge to re-connect with his Iranian roots through his design and ACT III is where he explores these personal connections for the very first time. A box brought from Iran by Hendifar’s grandmother, done in a Persian Marquetry style called Khatam, influenced Khatam the collaboration between Apparatus and Iranian artist, Shirin Ehya. Talisman finds its influence from the statues from the ancient city of Persepolis, and Drum references the tombak, an essential instrument to Persian music. These influences are beautifully melded with Hendifar’s own modern and even art deco references throughout the collection.
Scott A. Sant’Angelo (SAS) — Tell us about your latest collection: How has your Persian ethnicity and culture influenced your recent work?
Gabriel Hendifar (GH) — This is actually the first time I have mined personal cultural history to inform a collection, and so ACT III — the collection we’ve just debuted in Milan — is very close to my heart. The genesis of the collection is a box I inherited from my grandmother, which she brought from Iran to the United States in 1979 as a political refugee.
This collection attempts to create a tangible connection to this place suspended in time, one I only knew through storytelling, food, music and memories of my family. While the concepts are rooted in cultural references, the collection is a reimagining of this place on my own terms, as a modernist fantasy.
SAS — Silence or disruption — What is your comfort zone when you create? Mountain top or middle of city — each has its balance and benefits for creativity but which do you prefer?
GH — Silence is when the ideas come but the act of bringing them to life is all about disruption and building. To me, you can’t have one without the other.
SAS — In your experience, is it possible to realize a design product and market as an independent brand without corporate distribution?
GH — We’ve intentionally kept our distribution small and our production close so we can grow in an organic way that we’re proud of. For now, that’s the best path and allows us to have the most control. Yes, it’s exciting to imagine ways to make things that are more accessible to more people in the future but that growth must happen with integrity and quality in mind.
SAS — What about your personal environment feeds your daily creativity?
GH — Everything. For me, an environment has the ability to shape the way I think and what I think about. I find it difficult to be creative in a disorganized space, or one that’s not aesthetically pleasing. I enjoy surrounding myself with books, smells and textures. It all bleeds together into the psyche and makes for better creative ideas.
SAS — What advice would you give to young designers who are finishing up school and beginning their career?
GH — Make what you want to see in the world. Be informed about what’s going on in the design world but also have the power to disregard it when it suits you.
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