S TA R R Y cons tel lat ion

In the par­al­lel uni­verse cre­ated by New York’s Ap­pa­ra­tus, lights, fur­ni­ture and ob­jects man­i­fest as an­cient totems blaz­ing into space-age form.

Belle - - Style Etiquette R I Ght Now -

THERE’S NO TALE as com­pelling as a New York suc­cess story. When Jeremy An­der­son and Gabriel Hen­di­far moved from Los An­ge­les to the Big Ap­ple in 2011 it was to take up a job in PR and look for work in fash­ion, re­spec­tively. Within a year they had launched what has be­come one of the most di­rec­tional and re­spected light­ing brands of the decade.

Ap­pa­ra­tus was born of ne­ces­sity, flour­ished in a cli­mate of re­newal as the world read­justed af­ter the GFC and is ma­tur­ing into a brand with the con­fi­dence to turn out work that is at once per­sonal and po­lit­i­cal. Their lat­est col­lec­tion, called Act III, is based on a nu­anced read­ing of Hen­di­far’s Ira­nian ori­gins. It in­cludes a se­ries of ‘Me­dian’ lamps com­posed of translu­cent alabaster discs in­ter­sected by fluted brass can­is­ters, at once space age and time­less.

An­other group, called ‘Talisman’, de­ploys beads of agate, jasper and jade fixed to leather-bound metal, el­e­gant totems rem­i­nis­cent of stat­u­ary found in the city of Perse­po­lis, once the cap­i­tal of the Achaemenid Em­pire. Ves­sels and can­dle­sticks mounted on mar­ble spheres form a suite ti­tled ‘Shi­raz’ in ref­er­ence to the an­cient Per­sian home­town of Hen­di­far’s grand­mother. The ac­com­pa­ny­ing film show­cases his mother’s ethe­real singing and fea­tures a lit­tle boy home alone in a fan­tas­ti­cal mod­ernist palace with ver­tig­i­nous views across a ma­jes­tic desert land­scape.

“For a long time I tried to in­sist the film is not au­to­bi­o­graph­i­cal,” says Hen­di­far. “But Act III is re­ally in­tensely per­sonal, and all along the way there were vic­to­ries and de­feats. We’d pro­duced this col­lec­tion of ob­jects that was meant to be made in Iran us­ing a tra­di­tional style of mar­quetry I’d ex­pe­ri­enced as a child. It rep­re­sented a bit of trea­sure that came from this place. The first time we got phys­i­cal sam­ples of it, I had this tan­gi­ble thing in my hand that [orig­i­nated from] the land my fam­ily came from. It was so mov­ing and it felt like such a tri­umph, but then we re­alised we couldn’t make the things there be­cause of the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion.”

Hen­di­far was born in LA not long af­ter his par­ents em­i­grated to the US in the wake of the Ira­nian revo­lu­tion which cul­mi­nated in the over­throw of the Shah, end­ing 2500 years of con­tin­u­ous Per­sian monar­chy. Hen­di­far stud­ied film and cos­tume de­sign, dab­bling in mu­sic and per­for­mance. His first in­te­rior com­mis­sion came from the mother of a friend who’d seen his set de­sign for the high-school pro­duc­tion of Guys and Dolls. “The most ex­pen­sive, lav­ish pro­duc­tion the school had ever seen,” he says. Af­ter grad­u­at­ing, he de­cided to con­cen­trate on fash­ion, even­tu­ally work­ing for Raquel Al­le­gra, a de­signer ob­sessed with de­con­struct­ing, shred­ding and oth­er­wise “giv­ing gar­ments a sense of soul”. The de­signer also grew her busi­ness from four to more than 40 staff dur­ing Hen­di­far’s ten­ure. There were in­valu­able les­sons learned there.

Some­where along the way he met Jeremy An­der­son, a blond-haired boy from the Mid­west, a PR ex­ec­u­tive with a pen­chant for pot­tery. They fell in love, moved in to­gether, and the seeds for Ap­pa­ra­tus were sown. “We were re­design­ing our apart­ment and couldn’t af­ford any­thing we wanted,” An­der­son re­calls. “At the time there was a lack of things that blended modern ma­te­ri­als but felt like they had soul. Ev­ery­thing was so slick so we started ex­per­i­ment­ing.”

These ex­per­i­ments lead to their as­sem­bling their own light fit­tings from in­dus­trial com­po­nents in sleek steam­punk-meetsmod­ernist style with a twist. A gallery-owner friend thought he could sell some, other friends placed or­ders and an ac­quain­tance blogged about them. “Then Re­mod­elista picked them up and it went from there,” says Hen­di­far.

By that time the pair were liv­ing in New York. An­der­son was hold­ing down an ex­ec­u­tive po­si­tion at a PR agency, moon­light­ing on the wiring and pati­nas of Hen­di­far’s light­ing de­signs and do­ing the ac­counts into the night. Within the year he’d quit to ded­i­cate him­self to the nascent brand now glob­ally renowned as Ap­pa­ra­tus.

The early work dis­played a re­spect for mod­ernist ge­ome­tries but pushed the ma­te­rial palette be­yond pati­nated brass (a main­stay of the plethora of small, hip­ster­ish New York de­sign stu­dios that flour­ished this past decade) into the evoca­tively ex­otic via hand­crafted leather, python and even horse­hair – what Hen­di­far calls ‘‘sur­faces that tell a story”.

The Act II col­lec­tion of 2017 ex­plored the ethics as well as aes­thet­ics of the turn-of-the-cen­tury Vi­enna Werk­stätte – when tra­di­tional craft and mod­ernism bub­bled ef­fu­sively to­gether, un­til the rise of fas­cism. (The pair launched the col­lec­tion in New York with an über-glam­orous ‘Werk­stätte disco’ at their 30th Street stu­dio.) “There’s an in­ter­est­ing thing that hap­pens be­tween Jeremy and me, al­most an al­chem­i­cal [process] which pushes both of us out­side our com­fort zones,” says Hen­di­far.

Now with a staff of 50, show­rooms in Man­hat­tan, Mi­lan and LA and a net­work of savvy re­tail­ers around the world, Ap­pa­ra­tus is gear­ing up for the next chap­ter of its story. “I feel like I’m able to take a step back a bit and fo­cus on my own prac­tice which is ceram­ics,” An­der­son says. “I’m kind of the chair­man of Ap­pa­ra­tus, in­volved in strat­egy, but not in the day-to-day.”

Hen­di­far smiles. “And I get to keep dream­ing, to sort of con­jure things up know­ing that there’s this big, in­cred­i­bly ef­fi­cient ma­chine that can put it to­gether and get it out into the world.” Ap­pa­ra­tus prod­ucts are avail­able ex­clu­sively through Cri­te­ria, Mel­bourne; cri­te­ri­acol­lec­tion.com.au; ap­pa­ra­tusstu­dio.com.

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