P atrick Turiello and Leah Fabish have named their business entities well. LAYERXLAYER is the design company the pair started fresh out of college, while their new workspace and boutique on Chapel Street (near State) is called Plural Work/Shop.
The titles are appropriate because these enterprises have a lot going on and a lot of thought going in. Their wares are so carefully crafted that you feel you can see the entire process—the layers. You also sense the collaborative (pluralistic) sense of the endeavor, that these craftspeople have not just high personal standards for their work but also a certain type of customer in mind that shares their appreciation for character, simplicity and utility. Everyday objects, from hooks to bags to large pieces of furniture, are conceived layer by layer according to these values, then pluralized.
On the other hand, you can’t say they’re not singular. The products are unique and handcrafted, and the work relationships and interactions are deep and personal. Sometimes items are fabricated from found materials, which means they have personal stories all their own, even if we can only imagine what they might be.
The designers’ signature product could be their “peg trees”: wooden dowels assembled to look like tiny trees, which can be clamped to tabletops and act like miniature coatracks. You can hang keys or jewelry or hats on them, layering your belongings out vertically, without clutter. (One of the table-top peg trees, with its sturdy wooden base clamp, is featured in the September issue of Country Living magazine.) At Plural Work/Shop, you can also find a large table where the tree pegs jut out from the table top and also serve as its legs.
Fabish and Turiello describe their work as a process of discovery. In a section of their website titled “Meaning & Work,” they elaborate: “We approach every project as a learning experience and are more interested in discovering the solution, rather than imposing our own tastes or opinions upon the design problem. Fancy explanations and pretty pictures are not what we do, but instead aim to create things and experiences that are useful, fun and just plain good. Because really, what is the point otherwise?”
Plural Work/Shop is the latest city-assisted start-up business to occupy the current Project Storefronts building at 756 Chapel Street. Right now it’s on the second floor, but will soon shift to the ground floor when previous occupant Intercambio finishes moving out.
Turiello describes Plural as “a business, with art mixed in.” The quality of the handcrafted items, the founders’ local origins (Fabish spent her childhood in New Haven; Turiello grew up in Milford) and a sense of community are crucial to the shop’s co-founders. Besides their own creations, Fabish and Turiello sell products—soaps, leather goods, cotton-rope bowls, even insect repellent—“made by friends of ours,” Turiello says. Those fellow artists will be “visiting, hanging out,” adding to the ambience. Plural Work/Shop will also host workshops, gatherings and children’s craft events.
Fabish and Turiello started LAYERXLAYER as an online business which would occasionally rent booths at marketplaces like Brooklyn Flea. “But we wanted to have a physical retail location,” Turiello explains, “to extend our products and designs into events. It’s about us experimenting, working, creating new designs and talking about crafts and quality.”
756 Chapel St. 2nd Floor, New Haven (map)
Written and photographed by Christopher Arnott.