Jay Teske embraces the challenges of incorporating sleek, glowing hand-tanned leather into interior design. “I love the way it gets my brain going when somebody asks me for something I’ve never done before,” he says. “I wrapped a huge spiral staircase for a New York City advertising firm. I have a job on Martha’s Vineyard that’s 60 feet of braided leather handrail.”
After growing up on the Jersey Shore, Teske became a tattoo artist on Staten Island. While making a custom seat for his Vespa, he became enchanted with working with fine hides; he founded the bespoke motorcycle seat making company Pirate Upholstery in 2006. When a bike with one of his custom seats was featured on “American Chopper”, Teske found himself with a gig creating World Wrestling Entertainment championship title belts. In 2014, he launched Jay Teske Leather Company with his wife, Hadas Liebermann; in 2018, the couple developed the eye-catching Interior Accents Collection of architectural design elements.
Teske works exclusively with sturdy, vegetable-tanned leather. “It takes a month, using tree bark and oils, but you never get the same patina with chrome-tanned leather,” he says. Architectural design work led him to make his own hardware. “I bought a metal lathe,” he says, “and I’ve been doing end caps and details in brass—two ancient materials that age really well together.”
From a studio and shop on lower Broadway in Kingston’s Rondout area, Teske offers enticing leather shelves, handrails, door pulls, and handles that could make a home or office feel like the setting for great deeds. There’s also a bridle leather swing with brass hardware, a sweet seating option indoors or on the porch. All of Teske’s products can be customized, and he says he welcomes folks to challenge him to create new goods. “If you have an idea that would work well in leather, I’d love to hear it,” he says. “I love figuring things out and making them work.”