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When Gabriel Hendifar and Jeremy Anderson began to experiment with lighting design, it was because they couldn’t find anything suitable for their new home. The couple—self-confessed tinkerers—already spent their weekends perusing flea markets and decided to apply their DIY hankerings to a shared project. “He’s an idea person and I like to make things, so he suggested that we start making some lamps,” says Jeremy.

The duo is hazy on exactly when the art project morphed into Apparatus—their acclaimed design studio—but both agree that it was entirely unexpected. In 2011, a gallery-owner friend showed some of their designs on consignment. A blog picked them up, and by the time a restaurant group in Shanghai contacted them with an order, Apparatus had already been born. By 2012, the brand had launched at contemporary furniture fair ICFF and the couple had moved from Los Angeles to New York, quitting their day jobs to focus full-time on the business. “We’re definitely running on adrenaline,” says Gabriel.

Take one look at Apparatus’ sculptural lighting and it’s easy to see how the brand attracted the attention of the interior design community with such speed. Gleaming brass shades, heavy porcelain chain hangings and matte python-skin detailing lend the fixtures an appealing fluidity. While the collection boasts a few show-stopping pieces, most are purposefully made to contribute less flourish. “They straddle a line between making you think a little bit and not demanding too much attention,” says Gabriel. “We see what we do as just one ingredient for other designers to use when envisioning a space.”

Now that they’re presiding over a team of 40, the pair’s respective backgrounds have proved pivotal to Apparatus’ skyward growth. While Jeremy prefers solo, hands-on projects (in the early days, he crafted all of the fixtures), his background in PR lent him an invaluable knowledge of corporate infrastructure. Gabriel credits his experience working for womenswear designers JMary and Raquel Allegra as giving him a backstage pass to the creative cycle that takes an idea from abstract vision to successful commercial venture.

"We’re definitely running on adrenaline."

“One of the most important things that I think we do well, and this sounds so unglamorous, is knowing how to price a product,” Gabriel notes. “Ultimately, a lot of the things that we count as successful, that feel like they have a little bit of magic dust on them—like the fact we can offer a full suite of benefits to our employees, or that the business is profitable, and we don’t have any debt—comes down to making the right calculation about what something costs and how to bring it to the market.”

“You’ve got to fight for the things that you believe in and make the things that you want to see,” he adds. “The flip side is that you have to be very sober and serious about whether or not the world wants what you’re making.”

As business booms, the couple has learned to navigate the intense intertwining of their romantic and professional relationships. Work is never left at the office—particularly since Gabriel’s most creative periods tend to happen late at night after Jeremy has gone to bed. “I’m barely rubbing my eyes and waking up in the morning when he’ll be showing me all these things he’s already drawn,” says Jeremy.

“Now, I know how to read the signs—whether or not he’s interested in having that conversation at that time. The fights we get into aren’t about differences in ideas as to how we should do things. They’re about silly little behavioral patterns,” says Gabriel. “They’re couple fights!” adds Jeremy. “Yeah, we fight about stupid stuff,” Gabriel says.

Occasional squabble aside, the duo’s design perspective continues to forge a formidable presence in creative circles. They have rounded out the brand’s offerings to include furniture and accessories—an Italian marble coffee table, triangular bookends and a porcelain incense burner. In 2016, they opened a spectacular studio in Chelsea, New York, to showcase Apparatus products against a coolly restrained, ’70s-inspired backdrop that Gabriel describes as their “Yves Saint Laurent–Halston fantasy.” The new showroom is exactly how the duo intends their designs to be viewed: not within a vacuum, but as one component of a stylish space.

Last spring, Gabriel and Jeremy decided to throw a party to celebrate their new studio; 800 people showed up to dance the night away. If Apparatus still needed proof of its success, it was right there. “That was the moment that I felt like, ‘Okay, we just did it,’” remembers Gabriel. Or, as Jeremy puts it, “We arrived.”

This story appeared in The Kinfolk Entrepreneur in 2017. 

“You have to be very sober and serious about whether or not the world wants what you’re making.”

“You have to be very sober and serious about whether or not the world wants what you’re making.”

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