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  • theaptPORTFOLIO

    theaptSHOWS

    November 14, 2011

    A CONVERSATION ABOUT GENIUS AND PARENTHOOD… WITH CHRIS WELLES FEDER

    i am french, (big surprise!) and came to new york city in 1989 to go to nyu film school. that is where i first laid eyes on the work of orson welles… like many before me and many after, i was struck by the films’ vision but, perhaps even more-so, by the man behind it. later, i grew to understand those kinds of multi-faceted geniuses such as mozart, eames or jobs as part of an exclusive club of those who, indeed, push the human race forward.

    as my career took me in different directions, i studied orson’s storytelling and flair for drama in everything i did. in the past 10 years, as the founder of a creative agency in nyc, i have been in the position to breathe some culture into an industry, that of design, that sorely needs it, and so we started to make short films. specifically lately, i have been interested in having conversations with people, not merely film interviews but actually talk. it has always seemed strange to me that talk shows in general only ever engage guests about what they may be promoting at the time, usually mere “vehicles” for the invited to distribute a piece of information that will usually be to his or her fiduciary advantage and i am rarely interested in hearing yet another talking point about how “it was an honor to work with brett ratner” or “a privilege to have nicki minaj guest on this track. what i have always wanted to hear were the meandering paths that spontaneous, if prepared, conversations between two human beings can take and being a fly on that wall. so imagine my excitement when the opportunity to meet orson welles’ first daughter chris presented itself at the release of her memoir in my father’s shadow: a daughter remembers orson welles (in stock!)

    actually, don’t imagine it, just press play…

    November 7, 2011


    as it so subtly says on the left there, sometimes we also work… and today i just wanted to give you a quick look into what we are working on right now because it is, if i may say so myself, SUPERCOOL!

    i am sadly not able to divulge the nature or name of the client, yet, but let me say that this industry is ripe for new vision. that which we are lucky to have been asked to provide. what you are looking at in the picture above is going to be the piece de resistance of an amazing project we were hired to design a few months ago and the round structure is an incredible piece of engineered art that we are designing with the visionary marc fornes of theverymany. fitting within a space that is part showroom, part womb, we will be unveiling this beauty early next year and we could not be more excited!

    but what i really want to talk about this morning is criteria by which we are lucky to choose our clients. as with most projects that we take on, this one has involved us in a field that we never plowed before, which is exactly the point. when the phone rings and the person on the other side asks if we can show them examples of things we have done before in their industry, my response is always this:

    do not hire us because of what we may have done, hire us because of what we can do.

    now, 3 times out of 5, the new business prospect hangs up on me… but it guarantees that the other 2 that keep talking will have a built-in tolerance for the unconventional solutions we are bound to come up with. that is why i rarely show our portfolio any more. the reason i created the apartment creative agency was to have the ability to touch, unrestrained by the increasingly reductive industry of design, all aspects of the consumer experience. whether tasked to build an individual a home that feels as if they could have dreamt it themselves or launch a new car in a way theretofore unseen, the apartment staff and i believe that, ultimately, good design lays not in the individual instrument but the symphony, the way all the parts come together. our goal, in life as much as in business, has always been and always will be to do interesting things. and as such, we live to be hired to do that which we haven’t done before, not what is easily pointed to in a portfolio. we work with dozens of designers across the world who join us on teams specifically assembled for goals yet to be defined. that is how the unexpected happens. that is what we strive for.

    my focus, is never simply to give our clients what they ask for but to define their mission on their behalf using the tools of branding, graphics, product design, architecture, strategy, marketing and publicity, yes, but also those of memory, experience, imagination, fantasy and emotion in order to give meaning to the adventure, not just success. i believe we are one of the very few agencies in the world today offering such comprehensive understanding of our craft beyond its tools. as alan kay famously said, “if you want to predict the future, you have to invent it…” we are inventors.

    and that is what we hope to achieve with this and other projects in the pipeline. after 12 years of doing this, it truly feels like we’re just getting started…

    sorry for the seemingly complacent post this monday morning but i felt compelled to explain what we do who we are to some who may not know. thank you for listening and have a splendid weekend!

    September 19, 2011

    sometimes, upon reading this or that on the internets, i get the feeling that no one is serious anymore… sure, many people claim to love music, regardless of taste, but they don’t seem to be serious about it. many people, we were just reminded last week, fawn over fashion but few are actually serious about it. many people enjoy storytelling, whether on the large or small screen, but judging from the numbers of #emmys “modern family” was awarded last night, you guessed it, hardly any seem serious about it. atypically, i find this lack of seriousness disturbing.

    what i mean by serious in this context is the need for immersion in any one thing you may find interesting so deeply that you feel, not mere enjoyment, but understanding of the medium. not a matter of knowledge or encumbering references that seem to have as singular goal to make you sound clever at cocktail parties, but a willingness to invest your time into said chosen thing so that you may not only decipher but interpret for yourself and others what you have found to be true and false about it. so easy it is to know enough about practically every thing in existence so as to appear informed in blog postings, twitter feeds and reports on the local news that the need to dig deeper is believed to be the specialist’s job. it is not. especially since most commentary of popular subjects too often succumbs to the casual dismissal of the subject at hand, thereby apparently guaranteeing that the veneer of knowledge will impress. indeed, how could anyone slam karim rashid, jim carrey or justin beiber without having even superficially understood the history, care and import of the design, film or music industries? but no one does, because few bother to study for the purpose of appreciation to the profit of a fast quip turnaround. but i am not kidding, i think understanding is paramount in criticism and creation; i think culture must be opinion’s complement; i think seriousness is essential.

    you can be serious and funny. you can be serious and a jackass. you can be serious and not change a bit. but please, be serious and care to understand your world, not simply be an observer; be serious and, like the great comedians, invest the time to examine your context; be serious about everything but yourself. and forget about it all afterwards…

    have a serious week!

    September 9, 2011


    as a small and humble act of memory, i just wanted to commit to the open, the pictures i once took on that morning of september 2001, after having welcomed theaptPEEPS who had shown up for work, early as usual, and found nothing but grief in the hours that followed. there is nothing special here, nothing that hasn’t been seen before, just the vantage point from our place between crosby street and broadway where we experienced sadness all of us have yet to get over. i am not a fan of arbitrary anniversaries, celebrated for purposes at once morbid and deconstructive so i will just say this, for what it’s worth…

    many acts of violence have been perpetrated before and after september the 11th in the reckless pursuit of persuasion, revenge and even pure viciousness. human nature, as superior as it is presumed to be in the close-knit circles of its various neighborhoods, is still the slave of basic, bloody instincts which call upon us, and against our better judgments, to seek “the truth” and persuade others of what we have found. until we destroy that elusive concept, we will never cease to be jealous, angry and to thirsty to prevail, by any means necessary. this “truth” and the claim to possess it, is, to my mind, the enemy, not any particular group of men.

    have a thoughtful weekend, especially for those from whom life was senselessly taken.

    September 6, 2011

    schools scare the shit out of me. i cannot enter a classroom, in any institution of lower or supposedly higher education without feeling pressured to homogenize, comply and regurgitate.

    since i have generously been loaned two children (see above) through a grant made possible by the alvarez endowment for the arts for the purpose of seeing how quickly i can fuck them up, at least that’s the only reason i can figure, education is on my mind every day as a much broader subject than mere schooling. education intersects with development, intellectual awareness, emotional relationships and social ability, it goes hand in hand with being a social animal. and so, i wonder upon every new word, point of view and attitude, wondering how they learn, how they digest and assimilate. i am not however as concerned with what they learns= as much as i am with how they learn because i strongly feel that the most important step in education is that of the process, not the knowledge itself but the structure which needs building before it is filled with what will soon be forgotten to the profit of culture. whether you remember what year the napoleonic campaign of austerlitz was won does not matter as much as the reasons why you acquired that knowledge, whether you were made to wonder, and eventually care, about history and whether that interest for the past gave renewed clarity to the present and, in turn, inspired your vision for the future. the platform is extraordinarily more important than the facts. that is why i have a problem with the educational system as it stands for it seems to merely check for the ability to remember.

    the system as it is does not test for what is the most important part of knowledge, the acquiring. isn’t it the case with most things in life? journeys are often more significant than where they lead which is why i am absolutely astounded when i hear parents surprised to hear from educators about how much life at home impacts their child in school. they are shocked, shocked that their progeniture might also need guidance in the home. which is not to say homework but a rich cultural environment. how could that possibly be a revelation? well, because some people believe that everything can be bought. if you feel, as indeed most do in this western world, that money can purchase just about anything our measly little hands are capable of producing, why should education be any different? why shouldn’t we be able to rely, much like we do on ten dollars buying two hours of entertainment, on two-hundred and fifty thousand buying full growth for our children till they’re eighteen which, in turn, allows us to lay back while the knowledge supposedly enters their charming little brains? we should not and we can not, as each human brain simply does not assimilate information in exactly the same way. we keep sending our kids to schools with shelves full of awards, in good standing, renowned, ivy league schools, private schools, charter schools, public schools without really ever wondering how they will be learning there. again, not what but how.
    //MORE

    April 11, 2011

    art, i am afraid of you.

    afraid, for you are no mere act of creation but a form of judgment. and i do not like being judged. you impose a sphinx’s worth of weight to a process already burdened with complicated matters of self-expression and the communication of intimate emotions to a world less-than-prepared to receive them. afraid because you are essential to my life, able to plunge me into the abysses seldom spelunked of the reasons why i do what i do, see the world thus and finally, perhaps, have the courage to be who i am. passionate at first, profitable sometimes, boring never, “you,” to quote peter cetera as one periodically must, “are the inspiration…”

    over the years, i have learned to understand my life as a continual work of art. not because of any pre-ordained sanctity or even accredited quality but rather through the acknowledgment that if i do not willfully choose the notes to arrange in the symphony of my life, they will not pick themselves. i am the conductor of this orchestra, the painter of this canvas, the director of this film and as such, must look at all that populate my life as the crew, the cast, the sets, the special effects, the costumes, the soundtrack that i, following the mind’s screenplay, must coordinate to my satisfaction so that the studio may be happy with the weekend’s ticket sales. my life is a work of art because it comes from nothing and goes nowhere; in the gallery space that is our earth only for a limited time, buy now! buy quickly! my life is a work of art, as is yours, for there is no alternative. and so, judiciously must we pick our forms of expression so that we may be heard, misunderstood, considered, the opposite of ignored, left alone, acclaimed, victimized, rich, missed or found. so many ways to define the art of our lives, so many schools to attend… which is why the various branches of creative activity can be so confusing to people.
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    April 4, 2011

    is it me or has the too-easily accessible internet made us creative types susceptible to what i would call, and heretofore coin, inspiration fetishism?…

    every time i open any of my socially conscious accounts these days, it is to find yet another peer fawning over the words of one godin, gladwell or béhar and declaring them to be “so inspiring,” “amazing” or, god-forbid, “telling the truth!” (exclamation theirs.) the truth is that too many of my confreres find some sort of solace and pride in their judicious identification of what constitutes value, especially as previously singled out by others, but fail miserably to act upon the principles therefore unearthed. it seems to me that when some professional editor, ceo or designer deigns to publicly expound on the oft-expounded virtues of leadership, excellence or the way to creation, it is neither to show off, encourage awe nor even lead by example, but rather to foster principle. they aim to advertise the source of their supposed success not merely encourage imitation of its least valuable consequence, form.
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    March 21, 2011

    i don’t understand how anyone’s getting anything done these days… i know i’m not. coming back, as gina and i did, two weeks ago from her parents’ native land, cuba, and stepping right into news of one of the most devastating earthquakes this planet has ever seen as well as the inescapable result of one libyan madman’s obstinate insistence that he was indeed called from god to lead his country to victory, i feel the most confused i have been in a while. as americans, citizens and residents alike, we tend to forget, for better and unfortunately worse, that the world has other inhabitants, pursuing other roads to happiness. whether these are made out to sometimes be contrary or antithetic to our own by people and organizations with a misplaced sense of patriotism, they exist, and we, most of the time, ignore them. it is in times like these that i am sadly reminded of ambrose bierce’s words that war is god’s way of teaching americans geography… i, as a dilettante and a frenchman, tend to bask in the comfortable luxuries afforded the unjustly bestowed moderate success that my particular version of laziness has hatched in this country and also pretend, on a daily basis, that few things other than me and my world matter. this feeling was compounded upon my return by the fact that, as i took back to the digital airwaves, all i heard was noise from the crosspoint of south by southwest, blabbering on about a band, a movie, a new way to convince people your app is the best there ever was and so on, so forth… i still cannot sleep, think or yet feasibly work toward a solution to this predicament. as you can see from today’s theaptCOVER to the left, the unsolicited work of theaptFRIEND peter freudling, my own twitter activity, graphically displayed, is showing what he calls “a cuba hole,” red-hot pre and with nary a color post
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    March 15, 2011

    since gina and i came back from her parents’ homeland last week, i have been working to adequately choose the right words to describe the feelings experienced during the journey back in time and history. but i have come up with little in such way to satisfy my and your thirst for description or information. in sifting through my sd cards though, i saw that this emotional adventure was best shown and not told about, which is why i will now leave the pulpit so that gina may set the right context for the short film above…
    //MORE

    February 17, 2011

    i have an announcement to make, one that shall shake the foundation of what you have heretofore come to believe is true and rely on:

    i will not be live-tweeting the academy awards this year…

    now, it is with no pleasure that i relinquish what constitutes my equivalent to the pbs money drive for twitter followers on hollywood’s golden night but it is for a rather good reason: gina and i are, today, traveling to what will be her first trip to her parents’ hallowed home: the island of cuba. we will even be spending her 40th birthday in havana on february 27th, if i remember correctly. we have been preparing for this event for months, mostly psychologically, and are now ready to fly to the panhandle first and then onto santiago via charter. as far as last words before the jump as an outsider myself (read: white) and although quite trepidatious, i really don’t have much to offer other than general platitudes about living in captivity so close to the allegedly “free-est country in the world” which is why i will now shut up and wish you a wonderful next couple of weeks, until we speak again, either from here or the confines of a cuban prison… i hope to bring back a delectable yet digestible amount of footage that i shall present as soon as humanly edited. have a wonderful time off from my rantings and a fabulous oscar night!

    February 14, 2011

    when you are somebody in my position (currently seated,) you have to be responsible about your image, they tell me. which would mean that i would have to stay on top of all things, at all time. have a website, have a blog, have a twitter, know exactly, and at the drop of a cocktail hat, how many lovers florence knoll had during her good design years, be able to tell a st. julien from a st. estephe, have travelled the design fairs from milan to minsk, and hated them all just because, been to the secret restaurant that hasn’t opened yet, have thought that zhang xiaogang is vastly overrated, seen karl lagerfeld cry and paid no attention, worn the last hedi slimane collection for dior homme, experienced fuerza bruta sober, have lived in stockholm and praised kristall pear soda, made friends with the good people at coppola wines who are not shy about sending tasty treats, have snatched all new iPhones on launch day without lining up, not minding the fact that the occasional finger in the ass is indeed a two-way street, write a book, write an album and, most essentially, find time not just to eat but prepare three-hour meals with friends.

    i am supposed to, sure, but do i? well, actually yes but you would be surprised how little energy it actually takes to be this vapid and arrogant. which brings me to the reason you called…. i’m tired.
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    February 7, 2011

    i guess i would be doing my own company great disservice if, at least once in a blue moon, i didn’t toot my and the team’s horn… for those of you not awake at 8:30 in the morning yesterday morning, which i guess should be most of you, then you probably missed out on nbc’s lxtv segment about our design of miss cindy gallop‘s famed black apartment, hence here it is above, enjoy.
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    January 31, 2011

    to watch as people all across the arab world are fed-up enough to come together not to ask for but to install democracy in the last heretic bastions of institutionalized dictatorship is a concept so odd that most of us would never yet have imagined it. see, these people, as they have been described to us, are dangerous extremists, all of them in cahoots, at least philosophically, with those who attacked us on 9.11, dirty, law-ignoring savages who care little for the version of human decency we daily pledge allegiance to… such horse-shit. in fact, the situation in tunisia, algeria, yemen and egypt can be rather simply summed up by the cairo resident in the picture above in that after having tried and abided by outwardly genteel autocracy for decades, the citizens have decided that their lives could no longer be pillaged by the mob bosses in power, offering but arguable protection in return. fortunately, most of these countries, to their great credit and detriment, have spent decades educating their people but not delivered on the promise of such tutoring: jobs and the increase in quality of life. this lapse in foretelling has made informed people very angry; and you don’t want people with diplomas and little to lose to get very angry… and here they have come, down in the streets, armed with rocks, logins and most importantly, conviction the nature of which is perhaps incomprehensible to those of us lucky enough to take such freedom for granted. sure, the leaderlessness of this purest of impulses will certainly create a vacuum once the governments are toppled, by fault of their own, but let us not forget that there has never been a believable or serviceable way to oppose the power in place all these years, that “the people” will now not re-learn but learn for the first time to found and apply democracy on their own terms. that is an extraordinary opportunity, laced no doubt with fears and hesitations, but no less than those under which they lived but a short month ago. and it is an extraordinary opportunity for us, having too many times self-appointed as the exclusive patrons of liberty, to learn that such a state must be internally compelled before, if at all, bestowed. the protestors are writing their children’s history books, ones they will be proud of, unedited and willful.
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    January 10, 2011

    i had originally thought of making a somewhat honest at attempt levity this morning but the events of the past weekend in arizona have put a bit of a damper on my plans i must say… that any sizable group of people in the history of human social structure could accept that disagreement can be expressed with bloodshed is the unfortunate royal flush of the hand dealt us by life, it wins every time, or has, if history books are to be trusted. and we thought we first-worlders were special, that we had adopted a mode of thinking that did not just prohibit such slippery slopes but strongly looked down at such violence from moral ground supposedly descended from mount sinai on tablets so flimsy, they easily turned to dust when dropped at moses’ own feet, in other words, not worth the limestone they were carved on. it is easy, i find, to simply call the perpetrators of such violations of our blindly-signed social contract crazy, unstable or monstrous but we must realize that we bear a responsibility, all of us, to provide a context, not just laws, that dictates the written values, whether religious, constitutional or that of gym memberships, that we so vociferously claim to be indebted to for proper functioning. we, as well as they, are in charge and in control of the spillage from our mouths and pens and must be held accountable for the words we employ and not hide behind them!
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    January 3, 2011

    oped-new7and… here we are again! with our same two legs on the same firm-ish earth, living side by side with other bipeds who convince us, day in and out, that the future is where it’s at, hence worthy of hope, unable, as we seem to be, to find much joy in the present, unless it is wrapped. and speaking of, many vulgar things were exchanged nine days ago to celebrate… well, something we have been told to celebrate with the exchange of vulgar things. i received things i did not want, ask for or needed and gave equally as thoughtlessly. why? because i am currently on the third stage of grief, bargaining, as it were, with principles i have come to believe in less and less yet have had the toughest time of letting go: that of american-style consumerism. i call it that after a guy named dave did so thoughtfully in his search for a solvent that would dilute the deeply engrained glue of our nascent habits. what he found started with ridding himself of all but one-hundred of the so-called things and see whether he could do more than merely survive. he did and he does still. amazing.

    i would LOVE to keep the book and ninety-nine other, the proverbial bitch being one, and see how i might react to this worthy experiment, alas, the nerve is not quite there.

    still, nothing prevents me from making the list and checking it twice. let’s see, the aforementioned things must be personal in nature, not shared property with family members…
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    December 17, 2010

    mickeyhere we are, at the end-of-year break, finally! and i will neither waste your time nor mine by, again, over-exposing, over-berating or over-explaining the reasons why and why not of the holiday season, i will just pause, if for a moment, to wish us all a more productive ’11 that ’10 was. i am not assuming (how could i?) that your level of fulfillment during the last 365 days was unbearably low, chances are, you found a way to make it sound and feel good, i am simply wishing that the next 365 be measurably multiplied… that’s uncharacteristically optimistic, right? right.

    see, as my mother once reasonably concluded upon the discovery of my father’s penchant for leathered humiliation at the hand of a compensated professional, “if you ignore problems, they don’t exist.” and as wise as that concept might have seemed in the dungeon, truth is, in these end times, we creative people find ourselves better equipped than most to deal with wretched contextual conditions in which every way feels down. we have at our fingertips a gift that is not to be underestimated, the power of imagination. and i don’t mean that in a powder kinda way, i mean that when most people feel paralyzed with fear and desperation, it is our duty to invent exit doors, to find opportunities where none yet exist, to conjure up ways to configure the present so that it can have a future. i think the trick is never to regret what was and simply remain confident for what we have today for, as anderson cooper keeps telling us, it is probably more than we will have tomorrow.

    that is why i am and we should all be optimistic at this moment in time, here, intent on living interesting, considered lives that nourish us whatever the consequences might be. do we not best succeed when tackling life in a way that feels like us and in so doing, manage to achieve, not in any way on other people’s terms but on our own? that is why, i and the entire team at the apartment, are thankful for all that we are, have and have not. we wish you a happy happy whatever it is you celebrate in this arbitrary end to a cycle and i will see you on the other side. thank you for everything!