Valentine & Curio

About Us

The principals of Valentine & Curio are two families, the Youngs and the Rubels, who moved out of New York City during the 1990s to raise their children in the bucolic setting of Columbia County. David and Julia Rubel moved their book production company, Agincourt Press, from Lafayette Street in SoHo to Main Street in Chatham in 1996. A year later, Kenneth Young Design Services, a home and interior design company, took the office upstairs.


During the next dozen years, as most neighbors will, the Rubels and the Youngs began exchanging information and opinions about their new lives upstate. Who was the best mason to use to fix a spalling chimney? Where were the best local blueberries to be had? Did anyone know a reliable babysitter? Eventually, it occurred to them that others, especially second-home owners, might benefit from the knowledge and connections they had accumulated. The result is Valentine & Curio.


The Youngs
From Scottish beginnings (grandfather an umbrella manufacturer, father a World War II fighter pilot), Kenneth wandered the world in his nonage—traveling extensively through India, Japan, and Thailand—before settling down for several years in London, where he completed an apprenticeship in interior and furniture design. In 1978, he emigrated to New York City, where he opened a design and general contracting company. Irene, who comes from a long line of farmers, met Kenneth in the West Village.

In 1991, after a brief flirtation with the Scottish highlands, where Kenneth was raised, the Youngs moved to Columbia County with their two-year-old son, Luke. Esther and Evan were both born upstate. All have been homeschooled by Irene.


Kenneth Young brings to Valentine & Curio thirty-five years of experience in design and construction. His work as the proprietor of Kenneth Young Design Services includes architectural design, construction management, furniture design, decoration, art consultation, and owner representation. He creates (or re-creates) apartments in New York City and homes in Columbia County, as well as offices, retail spaces, gardens, and outdoor structures.


As far back as Irene Young knows, her ancestors were all farmers. During her childhood, she learned the family calling at her mother’s knee, and she has been growing fruits and vegetables ever since. To add a formal component to her already impressive education, she attended Columbia University’s Teachers College, from which she holds a master’s degree in nutrition education. Beginning with her work at Teachers College, Irene has focused her attention and efforts on the advocacy of regional and organic agriculture.


The Rubels
A child of Columbia University anthropologists, David was raised on the Upper West Side. After attending Columbia as an undergraduate, he worked as a writer for the Pacific News Service in San Francisco before returning to Gotham and joining the book publishing industry. Through his work, he met Julia, a native of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula who had moved to New York City to become a book editor. Their company, Agincourt Press, develops nonfiction projects for various major publishers. Their longstanding association with Habitat for Humanity International has yielded two books: If I Had a Hammer, a children’s book about the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Projects written by David with a foreword by the former president, and The Carpenter’s Gift, a Christmas tale about the Rockefeller Center tree.


Julia and David’s children, Abigail and Quentin, have attended the Chatham public schools. Like the Young children, they are brilliant and charming.


In addition to his career as an author, David Rubel moonlights as a chef and cooking instructor. For five years, he appeared on WAMC/Northeast Public Radio as the host of “What’s for Dinner,” during which he presented simple recipes featuring fresh, local ingredients that parents could prepare for their children even on a school night. You can find many of these recipes on his blog.


Julia Rubel is the hub of Valentine & Curio—running the office, answering the telephone, and responding to e-mails—because, frankly, she is the nicest of us. Consider her your new best friend in the neighborhood.

So who are Valentine and Curio?
Valentine and Curio are characters from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. They are gentlemen in the service of Orsino, the duke of Illyria, and they attend to the duke’s many and diverse needs.


“If music be the food of love, play on,” Orsino instructs a group of musicians in the play’s opening scene. Sadly, the Bard gives neither Valentine nor Curio so memorable a line, but he does make them mainstays of the court, always available and eager to please.

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