York Street Studio
February 7, 2017
Woodbury’s York Street Studio carries on its founder’s vision, designing and crafting fine furniture and home accessories.
Text by Regina Cole
Linda Zelenko describes her late husband, Stephen Piscuskas, as a Renaissance man.
“He built beautiful furniture, was an amazing designer, and his paintings are incredible,” she says. “There was nothing he was afraid to try, no material was out of bounds.”
She and Piscuskas, who met in high school, went to college in Providence. “He was at Brown; I was at RISD,” Zelenko says. “He took classes at RISD and learned furniture making. Early in his career, he worked with artists like Julian Schnabel, Ross Bleckner, David Deutsch, and William Wegman as an art assistant.”
In 1988, Piscuskas founded an interior design, luxury furnishings, and home accessory atelier, calling it York Street Studio for its Brooklyn location. He made high-end custom furniture and a line of tiger maple boxes sold at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art.
Zelenko became a shoe designer. She learned her craft at the legendary French studios of Charles Jourdan and later went to work for Adidas.
The couple married, had two daughters and, like so many young families, left the city for more space, buying an old house in western Connecticut. Zelenko left her job at Adidas to join her husband’s company, and York Street Studio added leather wall panels and leather upholstery to its offerings. The company, now in a 12,000-square-foot facility in Woodbury that houses a wood shop, metal shop, leather shop, and showroom, flourished.
Tragedy struck when Piscuskas unexpectedly died in the summer of 2013. As Zelenko struggled with her loss, she made it clear that York Street Studio would not close. “I told my daughters that we have work to do, we cannot go to bed and stay there,” she recalls. “My husband’s clients depended on him to make their visions happen.”
Today, she heads up a team of six skilled employees to make those visions happen by crafting leather walls, fine furniture, decorative hardware, lighting, and tabletop accessories.
Clients come from all over the United States, as well as far-flung places like the Middle East or Australia. “We work with architects and designers, and we design in response to clients, or we produce our own ideas,” Zelenko explains. “We might get a detailed and specific drawing, or a designer might say, ‘Do something fabulous,’ so we design whatever is needed.” For one client, she created a desk of laser-cut steel and macassar ebony; for another, a backgammon table that doubles as a dining table. In another instance, a red leather-lined room led to the design of a series of red leather boxes.
“The idea is to make things really beautiful: seamless and perfect, but still, it has to look like the human hand touched it. It has to look crafted.”
She continues to manufacture much of the furniture her husband was known for, including a Parsons table and several Lucite designs. She also still uses marine plywood as a furniture material, a trademark of his.
Inspired by her own background in the shoe industry, Zelenko makes use of leather in surprising ways, building wastebaskets out of it, or wrapping exotic skins around bathroom vanities and the tops of Lucite table bases. “I also use faux leather for specific applications or for vegan clients,” she points out. “I have a certain aesthetic, and people who work with me know that they can trust me.”
Besides an extensive furniture line, York Street Studio’s ready-made offerings include leather trays, backgammon boards, and a line of gutsy but surprisingly elegant drawer pulls crafted of cold-rolled steel set with Swarovski crystals.
When it comes to custom work, clients appreciate that Zelenko and her York Street Studio team understand that time can be of the essence. “We are known for timing and speed; we flip stuff really fast,” she says. “You want it in turquoise leather, and you need it in two or three days? We’ll get it to you.”
Her favorite part of the multi-phase design and craft processes is the initial drawing. “When I think about the transition between the drawing and then, making it reality, I get excited. My parents always pushed me to do what I love, and I realize that I am doing that every time I pick up a pencil to start a new project.”
Her husband’s spirit lives on at the company he created. “He loved working with people, loved making beautiful things. He was in love with the process,” Zelenko says. Carrying on his legacy brings her joy. •
York Street Studio