'The New York dream’ is how Gabriel Hendifar, founder of lighting and furniture design studio Apparatus, describes living in an apartment block in Lower Manhattan’s NoHo, and having tried much of what the city has to offer, from industrial lofts to classic brownstones, he should know.
However, like most dreams, there have been some unexpected twists and turns. Gabriel, first-generation American born to Iranian parents, moved here with his former partner, but shortly afterwards their relationship ended and Gabriel found himself flying solo.
‘When you share a home you learn to negotiate the space together,’ he says. ‘This time, I allowed myself to follow my instinct and indulge – even if that meant experimenting with mohair flooring and wall panelling. It was an opportunity to be a little eccentric.’
Gabriel, known for his rigorous approach to lighting and furniture, studied costume and scenic design before moving into interiors. Inspired by ‘mid-century couturiers like Dior and Balenciaga, mixed with a dash of Halston’, his home blends an uncompromising eye for detail with louche, laid-back appeal.
Pistachio drapes co-exist easily with deep terracotta velvet wall panels; leopard print carpet with antique Japanese embroidered art. It’s a decorative approach that more than stands up to a space whose interior architecture was designed by John Pawson, in a building developed by hotelier Ian Schrager and conceived by Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron.
The layout is long and slim, fronted by floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto the bustle beneath. ‘So there’s a feeling this is essentially a place to view what’s happening across the street and below,’ says Gabriel.
An open-plan space divided by two full-length panels, the apartment features a living area, with a dining room at one end and a bedroom and bathroom at the other. Tucked away next to this is a cloakroom and a kitchen.
One of the first things Gabriel did was to bookend the space with bronze mirrored panelling. ‘I like the infinite reflection they produce, giving off the sense that the space goes on forever,’ he says. ‘But I also enjoy how mirror can remind you that you are an active participant in the story you create.’
Curved forms feature strongly, the better to contrast against the bold architecture. Despite their hint of mid-century style, these furnishings aren’t tied to a specific time or aesthetic.
‘They incorporate many references but leave a question mark as to when and where they originate from. I hope that in that sense, they have enduring appeal.’
Narrative is key to the designer’s approach, whose pieces are crafted to show the skills of their maker in finishes such as marble, suede, horsehair, leather and brass.
Many of the designs sprung from Gabriel’s need to fashion furniture for this home that was ‘just right in terms of scale, proportion and tactility’.
His own-design Tassel pendants over the coffee table are a case in point. ‘I created them in a different era, but they still hold up.’
A custom brass bed, tufted velvet walls and mohair flooring may add glamour, but it’s the unexpected details that Gabriel holds dear. A miniature stickman fashioned from twine and horsehair gifted to him by his craft team on his fortieth birthday is a treasured piece, now discreetly framed above his bed. ‘Designing this apartment was like creating the set of the fantasy life I wanted,’ says Gabriel. Little did he know just how successfully he would bring that fantasy to life.
"I considered how the space would function, both for myself and guests - I wanted it to strike a balance between sensual and sexy; formal and informal"
'I considered how the space would function, both for myself and guests - I wanted it to strike a balance between sensual and sexy; formal and informal.'
‘Designing this apartment was like creating the set of the fantasy life I wanted,’ says Gabriel. Little did he know just how successfully he would bring that fantasy to life.
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