Above a cobblestone block in lower Manhattan rises a Herzog & de Meuron residential building with a twist cast aluminum door and a mirror-polished stainless steel, glass and pre-weathered copper facade. a brilliant green. The grandeur (and sheen) of this material palette gives the 11-story 40 Bond the feel of a fairytale urban palace.
That would Gabriel Hendifarart director and CEO of New York-based lighting and furniture design studio Device, a rather buff, burly (and bald!) Rapunzel, peering out of a floor-to-ceiling window in her apartment. Hendifar, who has claimed a high perch not only in this building but also, increasingly, on the international design scene, moved into the apartment in 2019 with his former life and work partner, Jeremy Anderson. After the couple broke up in late 2020, Anderson left their shared home and Apparatus to focus on her burgeoning ceramics practice; Since then, Hendifar has fully taken over the reins of the company. He also put the finishing touches on the interior of his apartment, transforming it into both a design laboratory and a place to relax; relaxation is as central to his creative practice as ideation.
In the decade since co-founding Apparatus in 2012, Hendifar has spent quite a bit of time imagining and building his brand. From the start, and thanks in large part to its creative direction, the studio was one to watch, with lighting and furniture designs that exuded sex appeal and boasted fine craftsmanship. No surface has gone unnoticed. No detail has been overlooked.
After the split with Anderson, Hendifar withdrew into himself. His house played a central role in this period of contemplation and experimentation. “After 10 wonderful years of living with someone, you start to understand what it’s like to be constantly negotiating space,” he says. “What I’ve allowed myself to do in this apartment is let my brain go where it wants to go, keep my time alone, and indulge in whatever feels inspiring to me.”
Hendifar’s apartment was designed by the British minimalist architect John Pawson and has a tripartite configuration, divided by two floating panels. As you enter, your eyes meet a wall of windows that runs the length of the space, with views of a series of New York apartments straight out of Rear window. Hendifar matched the floor-to-ceiling velvet curtains with the pistachio walls, drawing a line of continuity throughout the apartment. On the far right is the dining room, where a faux wood velvet banquette – dead stock discovered at Mood Fabrics in the city’s Garment District – is paired with an oval burl and brass table and satin chairs of olive wool of Hendifar’s design. There is also a small kitchen, but Hendifar prefers takeout to cooking. (The night I visited, he served steak and artichokes ordered from Via Carota, a favorite West Village restaurant.)
Opposite is her bedroom, an alluring den with plush bedding and a mirrored wall facing the bed. Behind an almost invisible door is the bathroom, where a vintage marble bust overlooks a deep soaking tub. These two spaces hug the heart of the home, a living space with a curved sofa and an L-shaped head-to-head that lends itself to conversation. Plush leopard print carpeting stands up and draws you in entirely. (Hendifar admits he spends many hours relaxing on the rug.) He likes to create a totally immersive sensory experience: all the time there are scents floating around, jazz playing and candles casting shadows.
The finishing touches are equally important: a still life by Larry Collins picked up in Provincetown, Massachusetts, which makes a contemplative composition of a pair of buns and custard; an antique incense burner used as an ashtray; a marquetry and marble bowl inspired by a delicate khatam marquetry box inherited from his Persian grandmother. Each object, he explains, is part of the narrative he consciously creates. “These micro-moments,” as he calls them, “help tell the story.”
Hendifar’s holistic approach to design really comes into its own. There’s not a surface here he hasn’t beautified, from the hand-enameled finish he applied to the Pawson panels in the living room to the languid bronzed mirror coating on the walls in the dining room. dining and bedroom. His eye never seems to stop, creating spaces that are quietly cosmopolitan and filled with rich hues and opulent materials.
Hendifar’s personal story is the source from which this creativity springs. His parents, who fled Iran in 1979 and settled in Los Angeles in the early 1980s, were both musicians: as a child he enjoyed watching his father play Persian drums while his mother sang and played the piano. He inherited this showmanship. “My motto is my ability to perform and create,” he says.
So it’s fitting that his first foray into design came as a teenager, when he concocted the most expensive theater set in his high school’s history in Pacific Palisades. The production he dreamed of guys and dolls was so striking that he got his first interior design client – a classmate’s mother. He was 17 years old.
Now 40, he is just as theatrical. Each Apparatus collection is treated as a global production with titles that refer to the structure of literature and theatre. In 2018, for example, the Act III lighting and furniture collection was presented with a short film, directed by filmmaker and photographer Matthew Placek, in which a boy perches above a desert landscape. Hendifar’s mother sings a Persian song in the background. “There are always musical and cinematic references that set the mood,” he says. “These are the mechanisms of creating emotions.”
Hendifar’s aesthetic is thoughtful and lavish, influenced as much by the simple luxury of Pierre Cardin and Halston as by the modernist utilitarianism of Wiener Werkstatte. In many ways, the design of his apartment represents a rediscovery of himself that embraces all versions of who he was, who he is, and who he hopes to become. The same goes for the objects he creates for others. “Through Apparatus, I express a need for human connection,” says Hendifar. “The creative act is an act of hope, ultimately.”
Stylized by Michael Reynolds.
This story originally appeared in the May 2022 issue of ELLE DECOR. SUBSCRIBE
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