Gabriel Hendifar Opens Apparatus London
MILAN — The signature seductive lighting from Apparatus has finally crossed the pond. The upscale New York-based firm is opening a third home on Monday, tucked into a small street among the mansions of Mayfair, London, in the site that was formerly a Christopher Kane boutique.
Its third gallery and first U.K. location will open in a historic Grade II-listed building on Mount Street, in one of London’s most aristocratic neighborhoods.
More from WWD
The 3,200-square-foot outpost, which dates to the 1890s, will be used as an experiential space to house Apparatus lighting, furniture and objects. Cofounded in 2012 by artistic director Gabriel Hendifar, Apparatus is renowned for its seductive, curated spaces that celebrate small, nuanced details, and Hendifar’s talent for storytelling, creating a mood through lighting, furniture and objects.
Born in Los Angeles, Hendifar studied theater costume and scenic design at UCLA and worked in fashion for almost a decade. Each of the studio’s carefully curated collections are designed at the headquarters in New York City, and brought to life at a dedicated Brooklyn factory.
Hendifar’s flair for creating new worlds in residential spaces is heavily influenced by film, music, visual art and human emotion. “I believe that the objects in our homes have the power to help us understand ourselves more clearly,” said Hendifar.
For the opening, Hendifar will set the mood in true Apparatus style, setting London alight with two special dinners hosted at the space modeled after his signature Eight at Eight dinner series, which he founded as a way to bring together talents from different arenas to dialogue about life, love and creativity.
Originally launched as a monthly dinner with eight select people dining at 8 p.m with a menu designed around in-season ingredients, Eight at Eight London will also introduce Eight at Eight’s chef Lauren Gerrie (who has worked as chef to Marc Jacobs) to the London design scene. The opening will also be highlighted by New York cabaret artist and Hendifar’s friend, Justin Vivian Bond.
For the London space, Hendifar drew from the exclusive, intimate feel of the city’s fabled private members-only clubs, while being inspired by the city’s historic architecture. The space, which was leased in 2021, is set across two floors and in dramatic scale, punctuated by a series of classical and architectural references with columns and bronze mirrored borders.
Upon entering, guests will be greeted by a vestibule sheathed in patinated brass, into the main gallery space whose walls and floors are composed from rich Italian Calacatta Classico marble and subtle, hand-troweled plaster.
On the ground level, the space is populated by some of the studio’s most notable designs, including the Segment dining table, and the Reprise and Horsehair pendant light fixtures. “It nods to the restrained, modernist beauty of the stairwells at Eltham Palace in South London and Villa Necchi Campiglio in Milan, both constructed in the 1930s,” the company said.
An autobiographical tribute to Hendifar’s family, the interior walls are hung with portraits of his maternal grandmother, Shazdeh, and his mother, Afsaneh, who taught him the art of hospitality and influenced his flair for conjuring intimate, welcoming spaces. Hendifar, whose parents moved from Iran to L.A. in the late ’70s, explained that his Iranian-American story continues to live on through his work.
WWD chats with Hendifar on the eve of the opening:
WWD: Storytelling is an integral part of Apparatus’s approach. How does one tell stories through lighting?
Gabriel Hendifar: Lighting is magic, like jewelry. It is relatively unburdened by function, unlike a chair, table or chest of drawers. I believe illuminated objects can become vessels for meaning and communicate an emotion or a story.
WWD: Can you tell us more about the tribute to your Iranian family at the new London gallery?
G.H.: We’ve commissioned a number of portraits of women in my family who are important to me for the space — including my grandmother and my mother. The feeling of being in a new place with something to prove is familiar to me from my childhood as a first generation Iranian-American growing up in Los Angeles. My instinct was to bring my family with me to this new place, both for a sense of love and security, and also to project the energy of gracious hospitality that the women in my family taught me.
WWD: What was it like transitioning from fashion to lighting? Why did this happen?
G.H.: I think the most important thing I learned in fashion is that objects have the power to tell us something about ourselves that we want to believe. The moment when you put a garment on your body, and you feel something that convinces you that you must have it — that moment of absolute desire is what I aim for in the objects we create.
I began making lighting because I couldn’t find what I wanted to live with in my own home, and in that way it was a very personal exploration. It’s always about desire — do I want this? And if I want it, will our audience want it?
WWD: What is your strategy in the near term?
G.H.: Our strategy is always to make objects that celebrate craftsmanship and the human hand, and to tell compelling and seductive stories.
WWD: What sort of clients do you have in London? Why London and not Milan or Dubai?
G.H.: London is obviously a center for design in the U.K., but beyond that it is a window into the rest of Europe, the Middle East and Asia. It allows us to present a seductive and compelling story to a broad, international audience. Our clientele range from architects and interior designers to design-savvy fashion consumers who want to bring the same level of sophistication to their home as they create in their closet. I think part of our success is that we exist outside the trend cycle. My goal is to render a piece that you bought five years ago as equally relevant as the piece you will buy in five years, and for them to create a dialogue.
Best of WWD
'The Novice' Pushed Isabelle Fuhrman Past Her Breaking Point