Horse trainer Leigh Delacour of the Delacour Stable and her mother Martha invited me to the races at Pimlico in Baltimore. We went up to see one of her thoroughbred run its very first race, coincidentally on the same day of the Kentucky Derby. Pimlico’s handsome logo features prominently within the racetrack.
The actual track is laid out in the traditional oval shape.
Photo courtesy of www.racehorseowner.com/art/rho-pimlico.html
Since Martha and I were guests of a trainer, we entered by the Horseman’s Entrance in the back of the track, where chivalry is alive and well. This nice man waited so he could hold the door open for us.
We then climbed up, up, up to the table Leigh had reserved for us in the grandstand. To handle the Derby Day crowd, Pimlico had set up a fancy all-day buffet so we could keep watching races on TV without ever leaving this area. We arrived early in the day; my straw hat rests on our table.
Martha, Leigh , and I were excited about the outcome of her race, and all the Derby hoopla, just iced our cake! The question hung over us – how will Leigh’s gelding Dr. Drew do? Owner Michael P. Cataneo joined us and posed here with Leigh and his friend, the original Dr. Drew Schoeffield, a microbiology professor from Loyola University. Posing done, Michael and Leigh returned to the serious business of considering the success of the equine Dr. Drew.
Martha whiled away the time by caring for her wonderful grandson who has grown up around horses. He swiveled his head this way and that at all the commotion but never fussed. Our waiter Dawn Perry was also wonderful, never once batting an eye as baby fingers played with spoons and napkins. She also kept us adults well hydrated with a never-ending supply of iced tea, so well described in the film Steel Magnolias as “the house wine of the South”. Dawn took a minute to pose with Wonder Baby, Leigh, and Martha.
About 2 pm, Leigh left us to help prepare her horse for the race and kindly let me join her in the special paddock reserved just for the horses about to run. I have never been around these huge animals before but imitated Leigh’s calm demeanor. She showed me how to feed a carrot to this behemoth animal, soon to be ridden by a racing official. One places a baby carrot flat in one’s palm, making sure the thumb lies as flat as possible next to the rest of the hand. God forbid giant horsy teeth should chomp on the wrong object. (The hand-crocheted white bonnet on its head keeps flies out of its ears and away from its eyes.)
Just as the racing horses began to enter. Non-essential people like me left the paddock , so we wouldn’t spook them. I took refuge behind a glass barrier, whose reflection you see over this last minute huddle of stable hand, horse, jockey, trainer, namesake, and owner.
The racers then walked around outside to calm their own jitters. I marveled at how the jockeys sit with their legs folded up into a fetal position.
In the meantime, people scurried to place bets at these machines or with human tellers.
I quickly raced myself back up to the buffet area for the best viewing – on TV and with Martha’s commentary. My camera caught the horses just as they left the gate. Thereafter, my lens just couldn’t keep up with thousand pound horses racing at almost 40 mph.
A mile later, the horse Blitzball won but my party was happy that Dr. Drew came in sixth. He won enough money to cover his expenses of the day, and he now had actual racing experience. Predictions are for a distinguished career.
Once the race was over, I was surprised by how rapidly the horses went home. Within thirty minutes, Dr. Drew and his racing cohort had returned to the back of beyond, to stables for cleaning up and then to climb up the steps behind the graduated screens. Vans then sped them to their home stables.
I took a last view of the track before Martha drove us to her home, so we could watch the Kentucky Derby on her TV.
Running in the driving rain in Louisville, this horse named Orb slogged the fastest through the mud to win the Kentucky Derby. I have texturized my photo to highlight the deep mud he ran in. Orb’s big task now is to prepare for the big Preakness race at Pimlico on May 18. We’re crossing our fingers as one of Orb’s owners is a Baltimore man.
If the Fates are kind, Orb will win the Preakness and then also the Belmont Stakes in Belmont, NY. It’s been 35 years since a horse won all three races, so hopes are high for a Triple Crown this year. Back finally in my own kitchen, I washed my souvenir glasses for this year’s Kentucky Derby and for the Preakness.
Thanks for reading my blog!
This showhouse began as a student design competition at the Woodlawn Plantation in Alexandria, VA, co-sponsored by the Made in America program and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Students received the challenge to adapt an historic home built for George Washington’s nephew and step-granddaughter, to make it liveable for a family in 2013. Further, the students also selected American-made goods and were as green as possible. Rising superbly to this enormous mandate were students of interior design from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, the George Washington University, and the Corcoran Museum of Art. Please join me in admiring their abilities by visiting their showhouse, which stays open until June 16, 2013.
Woodlawn consists of a main building flanked by hyphens. Within the main building, a grand U-shaped staircase connects the two floors with four rooms each. This photo shows the façade as seen from the land; visitors originally would have arrived by boat, from the Potomac River side.
Using the main doorway from the land side, I entered the central hallway decorated by students from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (hereafter UNCG) and was thrilled to see a pair of my Elgin Chairs. Their neo-classical design is actually appropriate to the 1805 original furnishing of this home, but Niermann Weeks makes them modern by making them ergonomically comfortable. We also make them of farmed wood, which is a renewable resource.
Moving to the right, front room, my eyes were lulled by walls in a very pale shade of blue, which brings the sky into the home and calms the mind. Then my mood shifted into happiness to see how students from the George Washington University had included two Niermann Weeks designs into their dining room. Our Tissage Chandelier holds pride of place over the dining table, and our brand new Verlaine Fire Screen made its debut in this room. We make both these products of metal, another renewable resource. Once metal products reach the end of their useful lives, they can be melted down and re-used in a new way. Further, metal products harbor fewer dust particles within a home, so they are safer for people with various allergies.
In the next room, on the right side of the house but on the water side, students from UNCG created a peaceful living room. Our Octagonal Mirror over the original fireplace would help lessen the impact of actually using the fireplace. As you know, a fireplace at work is all about creating ashy dust, but that dust won’t adhere very well to the surface of the glass. Glass, like metal, can be re-cycled endlessly into new products. On the walls in here, the National Trust used another calming shade, this time in neutralized green.
Interestingly, the owner of neighboring Mount Vernon, the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, have adopted some raucous colors for their walls. They commissioned chemical analyses of fragments of original paints found in hiddenspots, which showed a surprisingly bright palette in 1799. Consequently, many interior walls have been re-interpreted in really loud colors like in this small dining room. Allow me to quote here from the American studies journal Transatlantica:
Like his contemporaries, George Washington greatly concerned himself with color, both its fastness and its fashionableness, and made socially and politically motivated color choices. When he ordered a new coach in 1768 he wrote to his London factor the following preferences and caveats:
« …green being a colour little apt, as I apprehend to fade, and grateful to the Eye, I woud give it the preference, unless any other colour more in vogue and equally lasting is entitled to precedency, in that case I woud be governed by fashion ».
Vive la difference!
(Photo courtesy of the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, via www:transatlantica.revues.org/5612.)
Anyway, let’s return to the sitting room on Woodlawn’s left side, with the windows overlooking the water view. We’re back now to calming colors in which UNCG students very cleverly attached stencil paper as a border around the room. They could not alter the walls in any way, but this stencil applied with a removable adhesive did make the space more period-appropriate. They also had the good taste to include my Lucien Side Table, seen to the bottom left of this image.
Then a yummy luncheon rudely interrupted my tour of the house. UNCG hosted this meal with a lovely salad garnished by fried chicken, followed by a rhubarb crème brulee, a meal that would have done Martha Washington’s kitchen proud. After we felt very full, I asked the leadership of this showhouse to take a bow for my camera. On the left, DC’s noted interior designer Barbara Hawthorn headed the National Advisory Committee. James De Lorbe runs the Made in America program. UNCG’s Chancellor Linda P. Brady made gracious remarks and was obviously bursting with pride at her students’ accomplishments; 16 of them took part in this event. Finally, Alexa Hampton served as the honorary Chair of the showhouse. Unfortunately my camera failed to catch Professor Jo Leimenstoll, who teaches UNGC’s extraordinary class on interior architecture.
Feeling full and happy after lunch, I climbed the staircase to admire all UNCG’s treatment of the upstairs rooms. The most appealing to me, obviously, was the small sitting area in the upper foyer, with my Italian Chandelier lighting the space. The way our faux candle sleeves rise up out of their bobeches really does look like candles – without any of the bother of nasty drips of candle wax.
Saying my goodbyes to the group, I took a brief detour to a different part of the Woodlawn Plantation to see the outside of the Pope-Leighey House. This house was built to a simple Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian design in 1941 for $7,000. When the owner died, she left her home to the National Trust, which has twice moved it away to safer ground. The suburban informality of this house contrasts sharply with the formality of the main Plantation house, but both reflect American values at different periods in our history.
Please go to www.nbm.org/about-us/publications/blueprints/the-pope-leighey-house.html for an interview with Mr. Loren Pope concerning his interaction with Frank Lloyd Wright on the design and construction of his modest home. In the Library of Congress, the Historic American Building Survey includes this simple L-shaped floor plan.
Time, however, has been unkind to the home and its contents, so Pope-Leighey’s interior received full attention from the interior design students of the Corcoran School of Art and Design. A downstairs room in Woodlawn exhibited five boards proposing very different interior design treatments for the home today. Shown here is the board of graduate student Monica N. Mesa.
Thank for enjoying the Woodlawn’s Made in America Showhouse with me, and now please go see it for yourself! It will give you lots of inspiration. I have great expectations for all the young interior designers who participated here; we’ll be following their careers as they all rise in prominence.
So Many Websites For Your Learning Pleasure:
- www.memory.loc.gov and type in “Pope Leighey” to bring up digitized drawing and photos from the Historic American Buildings Survey
- http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NHLS/Text/70000792.pdf, the National Trust’s Registration form for Woodlawn, 1998
- www.preservationnation.org/travel-and-sites/sites/woodlawn.html on the National Trust for Historic Preservation and on their property at Woodlawn Plantation
- www.uncg.edu/iar/ on their Interior Architecture program
The Washington Design House opened April 14 on one of DC’s earliest and finest spring days. The balmy air caressed humans and flowering creatures, making us all feel happy, a feeling augmented by the lovely rooms in all four floors of the showhouse.
As usual, all proceeds from the showhouse will continue to support the Children’s National Medical Center. This facility has grown from very humble beginnings in 1981 in a rented rowhouse into a national center for best practices in children’s health. Last year’s showhouse generated almost a quarter million dollars, so let’s hope we can beat that amount this year. See more on the hospital at www.childrensnational.org.
For 2013 the interior designers mostly presented spaces of serenity, although there were several zingers. However, let’s start with the serenity in Camille Saum’s Living Room, as calming as her outfit was not. The ever flamboyant Camille posed underneath Niermann Weeks’ new Trieste Chandelier, with my daughter Eleanor Niermann standing in the background. Camille swathed herself in fuchsia silk outfit, from the top of her signature hat down to her well-shod toes. Pulling my eyes back to the room itself, the wide and gracious open spaces in our chandelier let my eye take in the entire space with its tranquil palette. For more about Camille herself, please go to www.camillesaum.com.
In the Family Room, Victoria Neale returned our eyes to peacefulness, and she dressed accordingly. Too bad you can’t see the magnificent black pearls in her necklace and earrings. Vickie let our Ashanti Mirror dominate the fireplace, while a pair of painted panels by Douglas Freeman augmented the tan and celery tones of her design. This room would be a wonderful retreat after a tough day, and Vickie can work the same magic with your home. Visit and imagine at www.victorianealeinteriors.com.
In the Morning Room, Iantha Carley created a sunny ambiance in the morning room using a palette of yellow, taupe, and white. The orange pet bed gives just a little eye-pop. Niermann Weeks also thanks her for using an acrylic coffee table from the Spectrum Collection, whom we represent in our Washington, DC and New York City showrooms. Iantha here embraces her husband, and they are both dressed to enhance this space. You can enjoy her portfolio at www.ianthainteriors.com, and see more of the Spectrum designs at www.spectrumcollection.com.
The last calming space I’ll share with you is the Dining Room on the lower level, designed by Scott Cooke. Playing off the rounded molding in the tray ceiling, he repeated the circular motif in his center table, chairs, and even the painted sisal rug. The round form of our Iron and Crystal Chandelier contributes to his theme. Scott and Mary Douglas Drysdale posed here with me. I really need to remember to tuck my shirt in, but you must remember to see more about Scott at www.scottcookedesign.com.
Let’s now transition to less tranquil spaces. Charles Almonte, who is both an AIA architect and an ASID interior designer, says he can enhance a client’s space according to their lifestyle and taste. The client for his powder room loves bold graphics, with fabulous wallpaper from Farrow and Ball. Charles is standing in front of a tall spray of punk blossoms, the only color in a black and white room. I love the exuberant graphic on the wall but do wonder how a tipsy person would respond. Anyway, you owe it to yourself to visit www.charlesalmonte.com.
Terri Hartwell Easter and her partner Ashleigh Bradshaw handled a similar space very differently. In the hallway leading into another bathroom, they lined the walls with a collection of mixed-media, sculptured heads entitled Thinking About Men by the artist Theresa Knight McFadden. In the relations between the sexes, I am sure we’ve all made faces like on these statues. Terri’s chartreuse jacket just added to the zippiness of this space. She and Ashleigh work together as The Maris Elaine Gallery, www.mariselainegallery.com.
A newcomer to the DC area, Ms. Regan Billingsley gave vibrant stripes to the teenaged boy’s bedroom. Regan is moving here from NYC, and her Facebook page shows lots of images of her creativity. As she conceived this bedroom, no kid could long enjoy an attack of sullenness in this very alive environment. To learn more about Regan, visit www.rbhomedesign.com.
Finally dragging ourselves away from all this stimulation, Eleanor and I walked back to our car. En route, I enjoyed a mass planting of Virginia Bluebells, a delicate plant that goes entirely dormant at the first hint of hot weather. In my yard, my clump of Virginia bluebells is tiny, but maybe over the years it will expand like this one. I sure hope so.
Going home, we passed the US Capitol and enjoyed seeing citizens engaging in their right to peaceful protest, even though we never got close enough to see what the yellow shirts were protesting. Too bad the creepy bombers at the Boston Marathon didn’t engage in peaceful protest for whatever their cause is.
And finally we drove home at twilight on Highway 50, which the State of Maryland keeps beautifully planted throughout the year. In the spring, flowering pear trees outline both sides of the highway.
Thanks for reading my blog!
PS: It’s eating at my craw that one of the show house rooms featured a knock-off of our Loire Bed, fabricated by a person who should know better. Just so you recognize the original, here’s how it looked in our natural steel finish in Home & Design (Winter 2011).
In 2008 we finished our Loire Bed in a silver leaf finish for a customer.
OK, enough of me being snarky, and thanks for your patience!
Mercifully this winter is almost over, so my head dances with floral images. My witch hazel tree is almost done with its blooming season, which started in December. Since Christmas breezes over these tiny flowers have wafted their scent of cloves onto my porch.
My first early bloomers of spring are nodding in today’s light snow, but daffodils and this crocus are strong creatures and will survive.
Being obsessed now with floral forms, I decided to look through Niermannn Weeks’ design library to review my faves. Before Joe and I married, he couldn’t tell a flower from a hamburger, but subtly I have embedded all kinds of knowledge into his head. For instance, I have always seen an Art Deco floral brooch in our Biarritz Ceiling Fixture. If I were a jeweler, I’d miniaturize this design into a brooch, which would glow on the lapel of my best business attire. This is my Polaroid of the prototype we sent for approval to our patron Rodges Menzies in Memphis. Fortunately, he loved it.
Our Thistle Ceiling Fixture took its leafy silhouettes from the thistles that grow wild in our yard. When we first moved into our place, the neglected garden had been overrun with invasive “weeds” that survived drought and deer. The seeds from the tall thistles still continue to thrive in a contained area up by the street, forming a nasty, prickly hedge in the summer that discourages the deer.
Our thistle homage, however, benignly casts warm light and interesting shadows.
One of my all-time NW favorite photos shows off our expertise with customizing, in this case with our Foliate Lantern. The bitty one in the center stands about 13” tall, while the giant on the right came in at 72” tall.
The leaf form on that lantern was inspired by our first family trip to Italy, where we saw real acanthus plants blooming en masse in the fields. We had to come back home to re-draw our standard images of that leaf form, which before drew its inspiration only from classical engravings. The real thing is so much prettier.
A bed of acanthus leaves supports the bouquet of roses and start flowers on our Mille-Fleurs Headboard. Our artists use finely pointed brushes to painstakingly paint this golden arrangement on a flat metal panel. The delicate motif fools the eye so our sturdy headboard looks gossamer in a bedroom.
The more I think about the joys of the growing season, the more I can hardly wait for the peonies and this year’s annuals to surround our pool. Starting in May we’ll invite friends and family over for picnics and to just hang out with beauty.
As you can tell, I am so glad that winter’s almost gone for this year. The hellebores are blooming, and all the spring flora will soon bloom.
And before I know it, a jumble of texture, color, and shape will delight me once more.
Thanks for reading my blog, and I hope your springtime will be as glorious as mine!
As many of you know, Joe Niermann deals with a family history of heart disease. He has now been diagnosed with Stage 4 Congestive Heart Disease. Consequently, at age 67, his priorities now are rest, relaxation and just enjoying his family.
Joe is a dynamic, strong person who has instilled his passion for design in his daughters and the entire Niermann Weeks Company. We ask for your support, love and prayers at this time.
Eleanor McKay, CEO and Joe’s wife of 44 years
Amongst the interior design vignettes nestled this soothing space by Elizabeth CB March of the Baltimore interior design firm, Jenkins Baer (www.jenkinsbaer.com/marsh.html). She beautifully used wrought iron candlesticks of varying heights to break up the formality of her space. The candlesticks came from Luke Proctor, whose booth presented a greater variety of his hand-forged creations in iron mixed with wood. See more of his work at www.lproctorironworks.com. The harmonious nature of this room makes me feel like I’m inside a painting by the impressionist painter JMS Whistler.
Troy Brooks calls himself a Maker of Fine Furniture, but I think he’s really a wood whisperer, bringing out the greatest beauty and strength in wood. He allows the grain in this desk to shimmer, and he made a functional piece of furniture with wonderful proportions. I really like furniture that works. So if you already have enough Niermann Weeks in your home, it’s fine with me to add a piece from him. You can see a selection at www.troybrookvisions.com/furniture.
Niermann Weeks made its first ergonomically comfortable chair in 1989, and we learned the hard way that a comfortable chair is probably the hardest piece of furniture to design. The human body comes in so many variations of height, weight, and breadth that no one chair can fit all people. Alan Daigre of www.alandaigre.com solves part of this problem by creating mobility within his chairs. He selects hardwoods with great strength and grain patterns, then cuts and pieces bits together by hand. Within the frame of this rocker, each piece of his mosaic flexes with the body sitting in it. His chairs are really comfortable, and my tired legs did not want to leave them.
Another symphony in wood is this hat rack by Don and Jenifer Green (www.greentreehome.com). At 66” tall, its controlled swoops and curves form a sturdy piece for the entry way. I might just keep it as a sculpture and never acknowledge its intended function. It reminds me of architecture by Gaudi, of the interiors of Gothic cathedrals, etc.
Alison Sigethy is new to this show but I bet she returns again and again with her Sea Core Bubble Tubes. Within each tube, bubbles float up and around, which I think would be very restful to watch after a long day, like a thinking person’s lava lamp. For those of us lucky enough to live in the DC area, we’re even luckier that Alison’s studio is in the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, VA. To enjoy the sights and sounds of a sea core, go to www.alisonsigethy.com/#!sea-cores/cb3i and click on the bottom right.
Still in the realm of home décor are Jennifer McCurdy’s ceramics, which she throws as thinly as possible on her wheel, then carves into pierced work. The way light flows through and around these delicate wonders is just numinous. Her natural forms would be right at home in the ocean’s surf or on a sideboard. See more on her website www.jennifermccurdy.com.
Going to a stranger place, look at these female torsos in blown glass by Alexis Silk (www.alexissilk.com). Ms. Silk has truly captured shape and skin tones of the feminine body. Personally, I am disquieted by hanging the sculpture on metal hooks.
The artistry is easier for me to appreciate when the torso is divorced from its metal presentation.
And now, here are some of my favorite jewelers, including the new-to-this-show Ashley Buchanan. She sculpts her bracelets, earrings, and necklaces from flat steel, powdered-coated (just like furniture) to withstand abuse from use and weather. I would never have thought to reduce this process to create ornamentation for the body. Ashley is just too cool; please meet her work at www.ashleybuchananjewelry.com.
Niermann Weeks uses the same techniques to produce our outdoor furniture, so I immediately understood her work and appreciated her creativity in producing miniature body art. Our Italian Arm Chair and Ottoman are welded of rolled steel and flat sheet metal, then powder-coated for outdoor use.
More coolness comes from Debbie Tuch’s adaptive re-use of slices of dried fruit as jewelry. Several years ago, my daughter Eleanor surprised me with a broach made from a pear slice. It’s sealed in a clear, glittery resin that preserves the natural contour of the fruit. Since then I have purchased new brooches, one of a blood orange and one of a lime, each of which starts a conversation at a party. Debbie makes all kinds of jewelry in these fruits but also of hard candies, so please look at her line on www.glitterlimes.com.
And finally, Danielle Gori-Montanelli transforms humble wool felt into jewelry that makes me happy, just as her smile does. Over the years my collection has grown to include many of her pieces, of which my fave is a large licorice pin. You owe it to yourself to visit her at www.studiodgm.com.
I thank you for enjoying the craft show with me, and offer my apologies to all the talented people whose work not featured here. You are all awesome!
Every February my craft-loving self attends the huge American Craft Council Show at the Baltimore Convention Center. This year, in addition to over 600 craftspeople, there was also a series of interior design vignettes. My friends Martha and Noelle and I explored for six hours, emerging visually thrilled and laden with new purchases. Fair warning: I saw so many wonderful craftspeople at this show, that it will take me yet another blog post to share them with you.
The vignette by DC interior designer Mary Douglas Drysdale drew me like a magnet. Mary always delights my eye in unexpected ways, this time by not using her trademarked intense palette. Her room unexpectedly presented calming blacks and whites, which she jazzed with lines going vertically, horizontally, and helter-skelter. At www.marydouglasdrysdale.com you can see her portfolio illustrating her magic way with color and light.
Moving on into the craft area itself, we enjoyed new talent from students of the Virginia Commonwealth University (www.vcu.edu) in Richmond. Just the posture of these two young women prepared me for a breath of fresh air.
The Peruvian artist Ms. Nebiur Arellano is a more established presence with her fantastically worked silken panels. She embellishes transparent silk with acrylic paints and metallic threads so they just shimmer. You owe it to yourself to look at her website www.nebiurart.com, but here’s an entire framed composition.
This detail shot is almost life-sized. The amount of her handwork is just staggering as is its visual impact.
Jim Rosenau from Berkeley, CA creates whimsical compositions from vintage books. As he explains on his website, www.thisintothat.com, he was raised to revere books. I got the same indoctrination: don’t ever write in one, or tip its pages, or spill water on it – even if it’s a used textbook. Somehow, he rose above that early childhood training to use books themselves a works of art. I love Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty? and wish my photo were glare-free.
My friend Martha purchased a hummingbird feeder from the glass artist Jack Pine, of whom more can be seen at www.jackpinestudio.com.
Jack studied the art of blowing glass under the maestro Dale Chihuly and is now a maestro in his own right. If my home were larger, it would now show off one of his gorgeous sets of pumpkins. Choosing which one to show you was difficult, but this is it. I can’t imagine the skill required to blow all this color and texture into one object, let alone into four variations on the theme. Seeing work of this impact makes me wonder about the difference between art and craft. Craftspeople are often dismissed as merely skilled technicians producing useful objects. Snottily, the criticism of crafters is that even a machine can be programmed to replicate their specific skill. However, Jack Pine’s glass objects spoke to me so emotionally that I want to call them art. I think he’s caught the essence of pumpkin-ness.
It’s been years since the National Gallery of Art (www.nga.gov) introduced me to Alexander Calder’s mobiles and stabiles, but that experience left me a sucker for these forms. My friend and Pilates instructor Noelle Richmond (www.bodylibra.com) shares our mutual enthusiasm with Bud Schieffel in his booth. His website www.earthsaverwindsculpture.com shows even more of his kinetic, mult-textured, multi-media artworks.
More traditional mobiles took the airspace in Jay Jones’ booth. Jay works primarily in copper. You can get his purer shapes in a protected copper version which will never tarnish, or in raw copper which will patinate to blue green. Personally I prefer the used, patinated look. You can enjoy more of his work at www.etsy.com/people/jfjones
Switching now to the clothing designers, Andrea Geer knit this fabulous collar, which drew me across a crowded room like a puppet on a string. She explains her hand-looming process of making one-of-kind showstoppers like this collar on her website www.andreageer.com. Her clothing can transform any woman into a movie star.
The nimble hands of sisters Lynn and Meta Reintsema have made me several black suits, one in linen and one in wool, so this year I went for the pale blue silk jacket you see in the right background. If you and I should meet at a design event this spring, you’ll see me flaunting it.
Any day now Joyce Stewart of www.jesclothing.com will send me my vest of crushed silk. She’ll use the same fabric you see in the copper-colored jacket on the top left of this picture. With my red hair, the vest will make me feel special.
So that’s it for now, and thanks for reading my blog! Come back next week to experience the rest of my fun at the craft show.
But wait, there’s more….If you want to visit an American Craft Council Show for yourself, just click on this link: www.craftcouncil.org/event-calendar
Since humans started using artificial light, we have found pretty ways to enhance the light source. Bronze Age people simply folded a terra cotta disc, fired it, filed it with oil, added a wick, and let there be light. I borrowed this image from www.worldwideflood.com/ark/technology/oil_lamps.htm.
Using candles, people eventually worked out more elaborate light fixtures, witness the Great Chandelier that originally lit part of the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris. I would guess that its multitude of candles probably gave off the equivalent of 15 watts of a modern light bulb.
In modern times, the candles in this chandelier in Hagia Sophia in Istanbul have been replaced by electric CFL bulbs.
At the American Craft Council Show in Baltimore this weekend I saw a wonderful contemporary take on electric lighting by GDG Studios, hand-crafted of porcelain in their New Jersey atelier. For more funkiness, look at their website, www.gdgstudios.com.
We at Niermann Weeks, however, work in more traditional forms, yielding many beautiful and functional light fixtures, of which my current favorite is a new one collaboratively designed by members of my family. Joe cut this original maquette from manila file folders. Joe and I have always been fascinated by the hugeness of aerial balloons and their ability to fly freely through the air, so this 8” skeleton reflects years of observation.
My daughters Eleanor and Claire ran with his concept to create our newest chandelier, the Roziere. Here you can see the drawing for the iron worker, showing him the exact scale and type of iron stock to use.
Hey presto – the Roziere in all its glory, with beads in place and the French gold leaf finish. The six lights wonderfully reflect light through the hand-strung crystals.
I love it and hope you do too.
Thanks for reading my blog!
Niermann Weeks is represented in fabulous San Francisco in the equally fabulous showroom of Michael Taylor Designs. Handsome Michael Taylor operated his own design firm from 1956 until his death in 1986, yet his designs for furnishings and interiors have earned him a place in the Top 100 Designers of Architectural Digest.
To refresh your memory of the Michael Taylor style, here’s a quote from the company’s website. Consistently denouncing the cluttered and pretentious, he had a simple ethos: when you take something out, you must increase the size of what’s left. The inventor of what has come to be known as the California Look, he became famous for white-walled, light-filled rooms with boldly over scaled furniture and decorative accessories. I think it’s wonderful that his company now represents the company Joe Niermann and I created. Our great thanks to Lee Pierce, current owner of Michael Taylor Designs, for including us in his showroom!
The San Francisco showroom reflects the California Look with wide open spaces, lots of white, and even a lofty second floor. That’s my Iron and Crystal Chandelier hanging over the dining table.
As visitors walk in the front door, my Avignon Chandelier hangs over a classic display of Michael’s outdoor furniture. Look on the bottom left at the praying figurine, a Chinese statue from Michael’s own personal collection.
More of Niermann Weeks lighting hangs hither and yon throughout. My Vivaldi, Grimaldi, and Rivoli chandeliers hang in front of my Iron and Crystal Sconces on the back wall.
My Gothic Lantern takes the right foreground while the Sévigné Screen anchors the chartreuse wall.
In addition, Niermann Weeks does have some furniture in this showroom. Here the Julian Mirror stands on the Renishaw Commode, flanked on the walls by the Avignon Sconces with, on the left, a LaFalaise Chair.
The showroom, however, invited me to do more than ogle their beautiful displays. 38 people earned an entire .1 CEU by attending my presentation, Greener Lighting: Today’s Choice in Light Bulbs.
These are some the new light bulbs whose efficiency and esthetics we discussed.
To cap off my great time in San Francisco, I even got to admire the fabulous statue, Cupid’s Span, on the Embarcadero in San Francisco. Yes, you guessed it – the sculptors were Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen.
Lest you think all my exuberance has been ridiculous, look at the view from my plane when I left home. Now you can understand that I left the dreary ickiness of winter in Maryland, to go have a good time in a better climate with people just wearing light sweaters.
Thanks for reading my blog, and go enjoy San Francisco for yourself!
Niermann Weeks is finishing some unusually lovely furniture right now, like this Wrought Steel Coffee Table. Even though it is a standard product, I will still rhapsodize about it. Each steel leg is hand-forged from a single piece of iron to achieve the splayed foot that rises to a disc mid-way up the leg, and then ends in a square column.
Rob must heat the raw steel and beat it into the shapes he wants to create within each leg. Then he does it three more times, making each leg into a perfect component of the table base.
Our painters then paint the raw steel with as many as 11 different layers to create the natural look that we call Natural Steel.
For me, the real fun is in watching David or Hallie or Tom take a raw board and over paint it with many, many layers to create the look of marble.
We also make this beautiful finish on our Wrought Steel Desk. My fingers have a love affair with its hand-hammered drawer pulls.
Another wonderful little piece is this Column Chandelier, reduced in size by about a third, to 24” diameter b 24” high, and painted in a custom regency green with gold leaf accents. I think this would look stunning in a foyer or a small bathroom.
And my final feature for today is this golden Saint Cloud Dining Table. You see it 54” in diameter by 30” high, but its leaf extends it 82” in length. The lucky owner can seat anywhere from four to eight people comfortable for a holiday feast. Think how pretty a Valentine’s Day display would look juxtaposed against this pale finish.
Thanks for reading my blog!
My friend Patricia Sullivan of the Museum of Maritime Pets (www.museumofmaritimepets.org) invited me to visit the Sackler Gallery with her on a foggy Friday. Crossing the Mall, we looked up to the U.S. Capitol, hardly able to see its top or at its base the prep for President Obama’s second inaugural.
Looking down the Mall, the Washington Monument loomed high in front of a tent. I have no idea why the tent was there at 12th Street, which seems a far distance from the Capital, but maybe this too is inaugural prep. The grass lawn looks awful, just in time for hundreds of feet to pound it some more.
Pat and I walked over to the Sackler Gallery, whose entrance from the Mall is inside this wonderful onion dome.
The Sackler and the adjacent Freer compose the Asian arts center of the Smithsonian, and each building is named for its original donor. Interestingly, 96% of the Sackler was built underground, beneath the Enid Haupt Garden. So, visitors enter either this cute building or another, more traditional entrance on the Independence Avenue side. Once inside, you can ride down, down, down on a breathtaking escalator. On my descent, my hands white-knuckled the rails. At the bottom, I recovered myself and took this picture showing the slope of the descent. Very scary, like the elevators at the Dupont Metro.
For such an expensive building to construct, the Sackler has very little exhibit space. The center of the building is open from the top floor to the basement, letting in natural light. The artificial lighting artfully keeps you from feeling like you are way underground, as you can see from this photo I snapped on the lowest exhibition floor.
My friend Pat and I visited the exhibition, Roads of Arabia: Archeology and History of the Kingdom of Saudia Arabia. A vast mural welcomed us into the show.
In the midst of the sand and rock, an oasis allowed the growth of a forest of date palms. To realize the scope of this forest, look at that solid band beneath the rock up-croppings. It’s a miracle that anything could grow in such an inhospitable environment, yet this exhibition shows how man and nature have managed. Entering the show, you see huge, man-made stone slabs dating from 6.000 years ago. Since no photos are allowed within the exhibit, look at these slabs known as stelae reproduced on banners outside the Sackler’s more traditional entrance.
My favorite artifact on display was this bronze head from the 1st century AD. The head looks about 15” tall. To my eye, the damaged left side gave the sculpture a Picasso-like effect, and I wanted to run my hands through the fabulous sausage curls.
The intense eyes on this 1st century man felt somewhat creepy, although in a million years I could never produce such a compelling image.
Dating a mere 500 hundred years ago is this tile art, a fragment from a shrine. Since it hung in the hallway outside the gift shop, a guard said I could take this photo.
Rising upwards to the lobby for leaving the Sackler, Pat and I gasped over the beauty of this bouquet of fruit blossoms;
thrilled to see snowdrop bulbs in full bloom in mid-January;
we wandered happily through Enid Haupt’s garden behind the Smithsonian Castle.
Mercifully, the traffic in the Friday afternoon rush hour wasn’t too bad, so we returned home in an hour, undamaged in car-body or in human spirit.
Thanks for reading my blog, and go refresh yourself by visiting a museum!
I see home fashion trends in orders processing through our studios, where our artisans are now working on chandeliers and sconces of teeny, tiny proportions and custom detailing. Only 18” high, this custom Italian ceiling fixture combines bi-level metal arms, six lights, and double crystal swags. Its finish combines Elgin pearl, faux painted zinc, and silver leaf.
This customer also ordered a pair of special Italian sconces for outdoor use, repeating the finish and the double bead swag of the chandelier. These personalized orders are great fun to create.
But wait, we have even more custom Italian chandeliers ready to ship out, like this one that’s 18” high, finished in a lighter variation on our Venetian silver leaf.
And this one, also 18”high, in our standard chalk rust.
This Biarritz Ceiling Fixtures stands 10’ high but reaches to 19” in diameter, finished in Mecca Silver leaf.
This Zinc Wall Lantern comes in at 15” high, and is part of an order for 8 lanterns of varying sizes up to 25” high.
Fearing you might get bored by looking at more teenies, I’ll conclude with a favorite images of Niermann Weeks’ lighting. If you ever wonder how much we can customize a fixture, this photo is worth a thousand words. FYI – The 13” teeny stands in the center.
Happy 2013 and thanks for reading my blog!
Hello, all! My new left knee now happily functions, making its premiere at this year’s Georgetown Jingle. This charity, now in its seventh year, raises funds to expand the pediatric cancer program at the Georgetown University Hospital. Santa and an elf welcomed me to the set-up, as they would later welcome each child, courtesy of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty (www.ttrsir.com).
The 2012 program celebrates these children in their fight to regain health.
Washington area designers, performers, and food venues collaborated in presenting a fun afternoon for young children, letting them decorate holiday ornaments and enjoy other children’s activities. As always, the Four Seasons in Georgetown (www.fourseasons.com/washington) opened its doors to us. DC area designers contributed 17 holiday trees, all completely decorated, displayed along the hotel’s front lobby. Each tree is available through a public auction, and here’s my fave.
Walking downstairs to the lower level, adults browsed a mass of adult and children’s items available through a silent auction, like this display of jewelry.
Then the fun for children began. Six of us in interior design created work tables for tiny tots. Niermann Weeks created metal animal ornaments for the children to personally decorate. David Herchik of JDS Designs (www.jdsdesigns.com) one of this event’s founders, posed in front of my daughter Eleanor Niermann while she set out glitter pens, markers, and stickers. From home I brought my own personal collection of NW ornaments hanging from the tree, to give them inspiration.
Olympic gold medal swimmer Katie Ledecky wowed the kids by her presence at our table.
Our youngest ‘customer’ was this little girl, who would celebrate her second birthday the next day.
She was so focused on her task that she missed the super heroes massing behind her.
Next to our table, Barbara Franceski and her team helped the children create edible jewelry, a very popular idea. They helped kids thread Fruit Loops, licorice, gummy fruits, and other treats into bracelets and necklaces. You can see more about her interior design at www.barbarafranceski.com.
Elizabeth Krieger and her elves helped the children personalize their very own party hats with ribbons of glitter and other doodads. See more about her at us.linkedin.com/pub/dir/Elizabeth/Krieger.
Shazalynn Cavin-Winfrey’s Gingerbread Station literally took the cake amongst us all, deservedly, as she has the patience of a saint. She made this gingerbread tower and then helped children apply their own inspiration to pre-made gingerbread houses. Each child walked away with a plastic case to protect their treasured house. For more about Shazalynn, please go to www.scwinteriors.com.
The next table presented blank picture frames for the children to work on. This little boy industriously bordered his. I am sorry not to know the name of the donating frame shop; when I find out, I’ll let you know.
Rounding out our decorating stations, Camille Saum, her granddaughter Clover, and team helped children make ornaments out of Styrofoam balls, while Clover even took a turn leading the entire party in holiday singing. A talented family!
While Clover sang, the little children began to climb onto the stage. The next singer and Frosty the Snowman shared their stage with a flood of little ones singing and dancing, and surrounded by proud parents taking photos and videos.
Throughout all this excitement, the hotel and other food providers kept us filled with interesting foods, some high in sugar and some high in protein. Paul’s patisserie in Georgetown donated these gorgeous brioche cut out as trees and as gingerbread men.
Georgetown Cupcake and Dolci Gelati contributed their own great treats, while the hotel laid out a children’s buffet of mini-cheese burgers, fries, and chicken tenders. The adult buffet included charcuterie, olives, and other tapas donated by top area chefs and restaurants like BOURBON STEAK, Rouge 24, Proof, Bibiana Osteria Enoteca, Graffiata, The Source and more. The open bar was courtesy of Blue Moon. On the whole, I can attest that we ate and drank well.
Throughout the afternoon, Dr. Aziza T. Shad, Chief of Georgetown Hospital’s Pediatric cancer unit, graced us with her benign presence. Although she’s deadly to cancer, she’s lovely with people.
Come join us next December for the next Georgetown Jingle. Together we can raise another million to help sick kids become healthy adults.
Thanks for reading my blog, and please accept my best wishes to you and yours in the coming year!
Please also note:
Themed holiday trees for the auction were created by following designers:
- Barry Dixon Interiors (Barry Dixon) – Holiday Punch – a Taste of the Holidays
- Sandra Meyers Interior Design (Sandra Meyers) – Bells Will Be Ringing
- Darlene Solutions (Diane Darling) – Martini Tree
- JDS Designs (David Herchik & Richard Looman) – Santa’s Candy Land
- Samantha Friedman Interior Design (Samantha Friedman) – Lego Tree
- Chistopher Patric Interiors (Christopher Patrick & Kaitlyn Andrews-Rice) –Season’s First Snow
- Alter Urban, LLC (John Coplen) – Winter Wonderland Dollhouse
- Case Design (Allie Mann) – Suesstacular
- Patrick J. Baglino Jr. Interior Design (Patrick J. Baglino, Jr.) – Journey to Oz and Back
- The Velvet Frog (Debbie Henry) – Believe
- Dolci Gelati & JDS Designs, Inc. (Nick Beck Anastasia Kessler) – La Dolce Vida
- Corcoran College of Art & Design ASID ( Kate Roberson & Whitney Osterhout) – Deconstructed Textile Tree
- Barnes Vanze Architects (Miriam Dillon & Evelyn Smith) – Festival of Italian Torches
- Darlene Molnar LLC & ETSK Design (Darlene Molnar & Sara Knowles) – Storybook Tree
- The Queen Bee (Allison Priebe Brooks & Paul Baldwin) – 12 Days of Christmas
- Housework Interiors (Dee Thornton) – Paint the Holidays
It’s new knee time for me, so please give me a couple months off from this blog to recuperate. Joe is now eight weeks out from his own knee surgery, and is well enough to have taken Amtrak to NYC. Having taken care of him this summer, I saw how completely dependent I will be for about the first month, so I’ve been hoarding reading material by my temporary bed in the living room. Some of these books will improve my professional mind, and some will provide escapism.
Newly arrived from Amazon is The Color Revolution (Lemelson Center Studies in Invention and Innovation series) by Regina Lee Blaszczyk. The author traces the story of mid-19th century chemical innovations in colorfast dyes and the fashion industry’s subsequent adoption of the new technology. For example, the French Empress Eugenie and Britain’s Queen Victoria co-inspired the trend of wearing a particular shade of lilac. Naturally, all the aspirationist fashionistas needed to also wear that color, which you can see at https://www.nobility.org/2011/01/27/social-inequality-redounds-to-the-advantage-of-all/
As you can imagine, as soon as new dyes came out, immediately designers of apparel, accessories, kitchen appliances, cars, hotels, furniture, etc. embraced the use of any color but black. As an aside, I started this book last night, but my eyes could hardly squint enough to comprehend the small, unfriendly typeface. Fortunately Joe collects magnifying glasses, so I put one next to my book pile. Prediction: using the magnifier on that font will be a PITA.
Writing about fonts, it’s time to re-read Just my Type: A Book About Fonts by Simon Garfield. He writes about the people who designed different typefaces, like these examples, all shown in their 12 point typeface.
However, the fonts in Introducing Postmodernism: A Graphic Guide by Richard Appignanesi gave me no trouble at all. This book is a surprisingly delightful comic book that explains postmodernism, which I didn’t really understand. According to him, the concept dates from the mid-nineteenth century. It means that there is no abstract reality, just our impressions of it. My practical mind had no idea what that last sentence meant – until I read this book the first time. the author illustrates this new theory with an example that a urinal could be considered a Fountain, as interpreted by Marcel Duchamp in 1917.
Or a sofa could include fantastic elements like this modern white sofa for a living room, as seen at http://trendzona.com/interior-and-furniture/furniture-design/10/art-furniture.html.
My personal reality prefers furniture combining form and function like Niermann Weeks’ Gabrielle Sofa. It sits well plus looks lovely in personalized upholstery.
I could sit in it while re-reading The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance by Edmund de Waal. a descendant of once prominent banking family, the Ephrussis. In the 19th and early twentieth centuries, the wealth and status of this Jewish family rivaled that of the Rothschilds, with whom they intermarried. Their lives were storybook until World War I ate their assets, and in World War II many were exterminated by the Nazis. De Waal’s history of his family is told through the passage from heir to heir of collection of 264 Japanese netsukes, small carved buttons once used by Japanese gentlemen to close their purses. The author, who gets this photo credit, named his charming, moving book for the tiny carved hare shown at the bottom left.
De Waal’s great-great-something uncle Charles Ephrussi originally amassed the collection. Charles was a serious patron of the arts and high culture in the Paris of his day. The impressionist painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir was so grateful to M. Ephrussi that his 1880 painting Luncheon of the Boating Party shows Ephrussi in the background, wearing the black frock coat and top hat.
Moving way backwards in time, I also plan to re-read Madeline Miller’s the Song of Achilles: A Novel. Homer’s Illiad has been required reading in the Western canon for centuries, and schools forced me to read it in both high school and college, yet I just couldn’t get my head around the core story. I did understand that Achilles, depicted here in an ancient Greek pot, was a major player in the Trojan War.
But the complexity of the poetry always kept my focus while the story just slipped away. Madeline Miller, however, has told the story in prose, which my head could understand, and her words have their own beauty. thank you very much, Ms. Miller, and please keep writing books.
Finally, I get to escapism pure and simple with mysteries by the Canadian author Louise Penny.
In the modern-day Province of Quebec, her Chief inspector Armand Gamache always snuffles around until he and his team root out the evil-doer. Each book in this series has won umpteen awards and has captivated me. If only all people were as noble, kind, intelligent, loving, and perfect as M. Gamache. The Beautiful Mystery is her newest title, incorporating her love of mystery with her love of music. I must re-read this book to savor the impact of music. I must re-read this book to savor the impact of music within its pages and within my own life. The music she uses is Gregorian chant, a beautiful style of singing taught to me in Catholic grade school. We sang the music in solemn masses and in the masses for dead.
And of course Donna Leon always transports me to Venice in her series on the equally charming Commissario Guido Brunetti. She is better than any guidebook to that magical city. The last time I physically visited her city was during Carnavale, when the strangest creatures walked among us. Ms. Leon entertains me with her stories and reminds me of my many happy times in her city.
You can see that my mind has lots to occupy itself during my recuperation, but please do send me recommendations of other not-to-be-missed titles.
Thanks for reading my blog, wish me well, and welcome me back in a couple months!
How to find these authors:
- Richard Appignanesi lurks in many websites but lacks one of his very own.
- www.imaginingconsumers.com maintained by Regina Lee Blaszczyk
James DeLorbe, the dynamo behind the Made in America program, is now organizing a student showhouse for the benefit of Historic Woodlawn outside Alexandria, Virginia. Originally this property was a wedding gift of 2,000 acres from George Washington to his adopted daughter, on her marriage in 1799 to his nephew. As you can imagine, Woodlawn is a spectacular historic home with surrounding grounds going down to the Potomac River. It is now owned by the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP). Recently interior design students from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Maryland’s Montgomery College, and DC’s George Washington University all converged for a private tour, stage one in the planning and creation of the showhouse. Even in the property’s neglected state, it turned on my envy button, and I will really enjoy participating in this showhouse.
To give you yet more background, George and Martha Washington raised two young children, Eleanor Parke Custis and her brother George Washington Parke Custis, after their father died at the Battle of Yorktown in 1781. These children, two year old Nellie and her infant brother Washie, were Martha’s actual grandchildren. As General Washington became President Washington, young Nellie and Washie stayed in the public eye. Fast forward to 1799 when Nellie married George’s nephew Lawrence Lewis, just a few months before the death of her adopted father. George Washington gave the young couple this 2,000 acre property carved out of his Mount Vernon estate. By 1805 the young couple, Nellie and Lawrence, had spared little expense in building their home at Woodlawn, a brick, Georgian style home with some of the most current Federal architectural flourishes. Fast forward again to today, when the house is being restored, only a quarter of the original furnishings remain, and portraits of more mature Lawrence and Nellie are on display.
The NTHP’s Deputy Director for Historic Woodlawn, Susan Hellman, is now working with Jim De Lorbe of Made in America to raise awareness of this national architectural treasure. This is the first time a National Trust property will be open to an interior design competition. The student showhouse will engage about 25 students in the business of creating a showhouse by installing rooms in Woodlawn with furnishings donated by companies which have won Made in America awards. All parties will win in this cooperative effort, and the house will once more be open to the public. Here’s the façade of the lesser front of their home, the side that faces the land.
Nellie and Lawrence build a standard English structure the reigns of Kings Georges I, II, and III, with five parts: a central block with enclosed hyphens attaching a smaller structure at either end. Large windows symmetrically placed let in lots of air and daylight. The oval window in the top center, however, gave a nod to American Federal fashions in architecture. Each of the blackened windows in this house today will soon be replaced with a completely restored window with 12 over 12 panes, just as in the house’s heyday. While the young family lived in the center block, Lawrence’s office took up the left, and the kitchen used the right wing.
Their formal, grander façade, however, faced the Potomac River. In the days before interstate highways, travel was easier via waterways, so guests to Woodlawn arrived at the dock and by carriage came up to the more imposing side of the mansion.
As I stood on the front porch, here’s the view all the way down to the river.
Of many original outbuildings, the smokehouse still stands, set back a ways from Lawrence’s office.
And the Flemish bond of the bricks is still as tight as ever.
The interior, however, presents a sadder story. Jim De Lorbe spoke to us all in one of the original hyphens, that had been all dolled up in the early 20th century to look like an 18th century interior.
Downstairs Nellie’s original harpsichord stool remains in her music room, the grandest room in the house with its 14½ foot high ceilings.
In her center hallway her grandfather clock grandly stands.
Going upstairs is an adventure in climbing her steep oval staircase but I bet she looked great sweeping up or down it in her wide skirts.
To give me a sense of balance on the stairs, I clutched the handrail painted in a faux wood grain to match some of the original faux wood grain still left in the music room. In Nellie’s time, faux graining might be far more luxurious than leaving the wood in its natural grain. I think, however, that this graining is a modern interpretation.
At the landing, built into the wall, is a copy of a mural painted by Nellie’s brother Washie. I have lightened my photo considerably to expose the nautical scene hidden underneath layers of grime. The original and very grimy painting stays in safe, off-site storage.
An upstairs bedroom holds an original bed, although the linen can charitably be dismissed as a nice gesture.
Looking up into the bed, I loved the oddly proportioned opening in the canopy.
In just a few more months, Susan Hellman and Jim DeLorbe can show off an interior furnished by these teams of student interior designers. The students will present the house – within their budgets and the lending policies of the Made in America awarded manufacturers – to attract a new affluent family to enjoy the magnificence of this property. Look for a blog in April of next year showing how the students did George Washington proud.
Thanks for reading my blog!
Websites to look at include:
Railroads are the most civilized way to travel, proven once again by my recent trip to Florida via Amtrak’s Auto Train. Instead of my white knuckles gripping the steering wheel along an over-crowded I-95, the 900 miles effortlessly floated past the windows of our roomette. My friend Joan Datesman and I loaded her car onto the train in Lorton, VA, enjoyed a lovely dinner on the train, and slept the night away until our arrival in Sanford, FL, near Orlando. The Amtrak engineers and planners have created an elegant process for handling all the cars and people with tender loving care, so kudos to them.
The Lorton station reminds you constantly that you are headed towards palm trees.
We drove our car under a canopy, where an Amtrak employee put a magnetic ID number on the driver’s door of each vehicle and then video-taped the condition of the car. Drivers loaded each car onto covered rail cars,
while we enjoyed the air-conditioning inside the station until our 3 pm boarding time.
Intrepid children could have played outside on a train set, but the summer heat and humidity kept us all safely inside.
At the appointed hour, all 500 passengers boarded to find their assigned seats or roomettes, and Amtrak did some advertising while everybody loaded.
Our reserved roomette testified to clever, thoughtful ergonomic design. The entire room measured 81” wide by 113” long, and broke into two separate area – the sitting/bed room and the private dressing/toilet area.
By day we enjoyed two seats by the window, with a pull-down table top. Joan used her time to work on her website http://www.merrywalk.com for her antique French Quimper pottery sales. I, however, kept looking out the window to enjoy the passing scenery. In Virginia the train passed inland lakes, the Atlantic Ocean, the US Marine base at Quantico, small towns, and a predominantly hardwood forest.
As soon as we took our seats, our concierge Sallie plied us with free bottles of water, and gave us a printed paper menu from which to choose our dinner. Joan enjoyed the chicken dish, and I the steak entrée. Both tasted and looked great, putting us in a good mood for the evening.
Come twilight, Sallie transformed our seating area into the upper and lower berths. She flipped the tables and chairs around into this bed configuration, with each bunk sized 78” long but a mere 30” wide. As the person in the upper bunk, I can tell you that the stepladder is safe but daunting, and the safety straps made me feel much more secure. Thankfully, I don’t toss and turn in my sleep, so settled down for a refreshing night.
In the morning Joan and I took turns in our private dressing area, and in the main hallway an enclosed shower stall was available to everybody in our car.
About 7:30 am Sallie served us yet more water with a light breakfast of corn muffins, coffee, and juice. Right on schedule at 8:30 the train pulled into Sanford, FL, where the hardwood forests of the mid-Atlantic had given way to Spanish moss, palm trees, and sandy soil.
Amtrak had made our journey south into a time of peace and quiet surrounded by elegantly designed, compact solutions to the needs of its passengers, both human and automotive. Their process made our journey serene, and it is my intent that all your interactions with Niermann Weeks should be so delightful.
Thanks for reading my blog!
Executive Steering Committee of the Washington Design Center Showroom Owners (formed as of August 10, 2012)
August 17, 2012
Dear Design Colleagues in the Washington, DC Metro Community:
As many of you are aware, as of late July, the Washington Design Center has been sold to the Museum of the Bible. Within the next four years, the new owners intend to completely reposition the building in order to create a new home for their extensive collections. The building will no longer remain a design center.
We want to keep you as informed as we possibly can about the changes that are occurring at the Washington Design Center. We intend to share information with you on an on-going basis. Here is what we know to date:
- The new owner has retained Vornado Realty Trust as the property management company for the Washington Design Center. This will ensure that the building will remain open and will continue to serve the needs of our clients.
- The new owner has advised us that they will not begin construction on the Museum of the Bible before the summer of 2014. With the cooperation of the new owner, it is anticipated that our showrooms will remain open at a minimum through the summer of 2014. At that time construction will begin on The Museum of the Bible, with an estimated completion date in 2016. By that time, however, it is our intent to have completed our move to a new facility in the DC metro area.
- Many of the Washington Design Center showrooms met together on August 10, 2012 to agree upon a relocation plan for the Washington Design Center.
The group committed to the actions below:
- We agreed to act together as a group in order to relocate into a new facility in the DC metro area.
- We appointed an Executive Steering Committee of seven companies, in order to effectively guide the group. This includes the following firms: Baker, Knapp & Tubbs; Duralee; Galleria Carpets; Kravet; J. Lambeth; Niermann Weeks; and Robert Allen.
- We interviewed three real estate brokerage firms and selected Cassidy Turley to help us plan and accomplish our move into a new facility.
- We agreed to keep everyone informed as further decisions are made and as the timetable and location are established.
We understand that there may be some uncertainty in the design community due to the above changes. We hope that this letter, as well as our future communications, will help to allay your concerns. Our showrooms remain open and we invite you, our clients, to show support for our showrooms by shopping, placing orders, and continuing to visit the Washington Design Center as we transition to our new location.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact any member of the Executive Steering Committee.
We know that we will find the right home for the future Washington Design Center and will continue to provide you with the very best in home furnishings products and services.
|AmericanEye||Hines & Company|
|Arc-Com Fabrics||Holland & Sherry|
|Art Gallery||Holly Hunt|
|Baker Knapp & Tubbs *||J Asher Carpet Couture|
|Brunschwig & Fils||J Lambeth & Co *|
|Century Furniture||Kravet *|
|Charles Ray & Associates, Inc.||Michael – Cleary, LLC|
|Cowtan & Tout||Niermann Weeks *|
|Donghia||Osborne & Little|
|Duralee *||Patterson Flynn & Martin|
|Edelman Leather||Pindler Corp.|
|Edward Ferrell + Lewis Mittman||Poliform|
|F. Schumacher & Co||Robert Allen *|
|Farrow & Ball||Stark Carpet|
|Galleria Carpets *||The Rist Corporation|
* Member of the Executive Steering Committee
The Made in America Award brought me the privilege of a private tour of the U.S. Capitol, conducted by Annette Lantos, the widow of former Congressman Tom Lantos.
Her husband emigrated from Hungary in 1946 , and by 1981 was elected to Congress to represent part of the San Francisco area. After 27 years of faithful leadership, he died in 2008, having been the only Holocaust survivor to have served in the U.S. Congress. Annette and their two daughters continue the family tradition of activism for human rights for us as well as for the improvement of the government of the United States. Just being in Mrs. Lantos’ presence was a humbling experience. Shown here in the Capitol’s Rotunda are Annette Lantos, Jim Delorbe of Made in America, and my colleague Martha Riviere.
Annette let us watch a session of the U.S. House of Representatives, in which Congressman Walter Jones of North Carolina pleaded with his colleagues for an end to the war and spending in Afghanistan, noting that the people and the money could be put to really good use here at home. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, the non-voting member from the District of Columbia, urged members to cease putting unusual and undue burdens on citizens living in the nation’s capital. Then Annette led us to the Senate Chamber, but unfortunately for me, the Senate was not in session. Unfortunately for all of us, no photos are allowed in many significant areas and even hallways and elevator doorways, but I was still thrilled to watch a part of our government at its daily work. Finally Annette hosted us to a delicious lunch in the Senate Dining Room.
The Capitol building itself channels Greco-Roman architecture and design. It’s easy to tell that our Founders took inspiration from the ideals and built environment of classical civilization. Julius Caesar himself would feel right at home here, and the highly vigilant security guards might have saved him from Brutus’ knife. In the central Rotunda, we looked up 180 feet to the painting The Apotheosis of George Washington, to see how all the heavens welcomed him as a god into their midst. Caesar would also have related to that deification process.
Under the Apotheosis and a band of arched windows is a balcony. Look under it at the fresco, The Frieze of American History, showing 400 years of our history. In the center of this photo, look slightly to the left at the Wright Brothers and their airplane at Kitty Hawk. Look to the center right for the arrival of Europeans in the New World. This amazing fresco measures 300 feet in circumference and was painted in a grisaille monotone of white and brown paints. I have over-exposed my photo to better show its details.
Underneath all that beauty, many tour groups swirled around us in the Rotunda.
Leaving the rotunda, Annette took us through the Capitol’s organized rabbit warren of parallel and criss-crossing alleés, broken occasionally with rotundas of varying sizes that let natural light into the building. A glance to the left or right exposed such wonders as the Office of the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Or the original two-room suite of the Library of Congress, now housed in three building and growing. (Full disclosure: I once held a library position in Building 3.)
Or a lovely but minor rotunda.
Glance down to the floor in the original Senate Chamber, and you’re standing where a famous Congressman once had his desk.
For a longer vista, look out a window up the Mall to the Washington Monument.
Look in the other direction for the original building of the Library of Congress, which was inspired by the architecture and design of the Paris Opera House.
After Annette concluded our tour, I looked back for one final view of the Capitol over which the statue of Freedom stands tall.
What a wonderful experience. Thank you Annette Lantos!
Thank you all for reading my blog!
Interior designer Hillary Staats has just installed a home in northern Virginia, which includes an eye-popping dining room. Her clients, let’s call them Mr. and Mrs. Paul, had asked her for a home combining formal elements with the comforts of casual living, and Hillary certainly complied. She gave them a home as accessible to blue jeans as to a couture outfit.
The Pauls give frequent dinner parties, so Hillary created this well-bred, neutral dining room with its table extending 104 inches in length. For the table she chose a light wood, slightly different in tone and texture from the floors and the sideboard. She scaled down this pair of our Lille Chandeliers so they’d let light fall evenly over the entire dining table. Then Hillary selected our Gabrielle Chairs. As is our wont, Niermann Weeks designed these dining chairs to provide comfortable support throughout a ninety minute meal. We don’t want guests squirming here and there, but rather we want them to enjoy the Paul’s company. The orange velvet (by Osborne and Little) certainly invites people to come on in and relax. Our nailhead trim accentuates the chairs’ sensuous curves, and it also gives guests’ finges the pleasure of running their fingers over the nails.
Here is a side view showing our chandeliers and chairs in closer detail.
When she’s not designing interiors, Hillary uses her store as a stocking dealer for Niermann Weeks. Her store has a great name of Sanctuary On Church (Street) in Vienna, Virginia. This view into her display also shows how subtly she integrates color into her overall presentation. The Niermann Weeks’ products in this image include:
- Palissy Lantern
- Crevecoeur Chandelier
- Avignon Chandelier, peaking out behind the
- Capucine Chandelier
- Empire Side chairs, around our
- Mirabeau Dining Table
Thanks, Hillary, for making sure brilliant use of our designs! You can see much more about her at www.sanctuaryonchurch.com.
Thank you all for reading my blog.
This Fourth of July was a special day for me and for the Niermann Weeks Company. The Company won a Made in America Award, and a few of us got ringside seats on the Washington Mall to watch the fireworks extravaganza. The Made in America program each year recognizes American furniture makers who manufacture in the United States, using American craftspeople and recycling our income through the American economy. This year’s winners included Niermann Weeks, Hickory Chair, and Kittinger.
We are proud to stand with such distinguished firms.
Helping me celebrate were Dr. James and Rosemarie Howe, Bill Sancho, Rob Roberson, Justine Sancho, and Michael Roberson. The three women are interior designers with many years of patronizing Niermann Weeks. Bill and Rob both manage their spouse’s business. They all came out to help us party during DC’s power blackout on one of our hottest days on record. Many thanks!
But for several days before we showed up in our good clothes, my daughters, Eleanor and Claire, and my intern, Emma Xuan, spent hours in the un-air conditioned near dark to prepare our displays in the foyer and our bedroom. The lobby showed off our Fantome Side Table, Montaigne Floor Lamp, and the amazingly comfy Follot Chair. I love chairs with a back high enough to support my head, and the arm rests are an extra plus for me. It’s a great chair to read in.
Our mirrored Valois Bed takes pride of place in the bedroom, with a Fantome Bench at its foot. The linens are all courtesy of Nancy Corzine’s California furniture & textile company. Going from the left are a Cunyngham Chair, a Danish Commode and an Acanthus Lamp, the Valois Bed and Fantome Bench, a Biarritz Pendant, yet another Danish Commode with an Acanthus Lamp, and a Beaton Mirror. Visitors kept sitting on the bed to pose for glamorous portraits, so we just kept fluffing up the linens.
Looking into the front right corner of our room, my camera caught Emma taking a photo plus our Lucien Table, Montaigne Table Lamp, another view of the Biarritz Pendant, a many paneled Sevigne Screen of antiqued mirrors, and La Falaise Chair in a Groves Brothers silk.
To the other side of the bed the cool gray walls showed off the inimitable Emma, posing with a pair of Italian Sconces, one of Joe Niermann’s paintings inspired by a trip to China, and our often-imitated Baltic Console.
After all us furniture people accepted our awards and showed off our displays, then the party really started. Each year Made in America recognizes masters of different regional cuisines, this year the BBQ masters of the South. We enjoyed a tasting lunch of BBQ made from grass-fed beef, a delightful soup of heirloom peas, organic cheeses, organic wines and beers and ciders whose flavor could be enhanced by various flavors of vegetable-based bitters, an American prosciutto, and other goodies.
The afternoon was devoted to visiting with all the food and furniture honorees and some time-killing. The temperature Inside the Washington Design Center was about a zillion degrees more comfy than the outside air, so we really got quality visiting time.
The food honorees included:
Our lunch turned out to be a teaser for the evening meal, a full-on homage to Southern cuisine. For us carnivores, Rodney of Scott’s Bar Bee Que in Hemingway, SC prepared pulled pork, so succulent that the sauce was really not necessary. Others chefs provided fried chicken, succotash, tomato salad, the best mac & cheese I have ever eaten, cole slaw, spoon bread, lemonade, a rum punch, and a banana pudding for dessert. About 200 people enjoyed this bountiful feast.
After Emma had already begun her dinner, I stopped her to take this photo.
Afterwards, we had no more excuse to stay inside, so Emma, my friend Martha Riviere, and I walked the several blocks to the National Mall. To our surprise, the center of the Mall is completely torn up for reconstruction. So many people use the Mall for recreation and touring the museums that the grass had just gotten pounded into dirt. The dirt has been removed, and new foundation is being laid, and a tougher kind of grass will be planted. ETA: in December the Mall will be a grassy swath again.
This photo shows Emma against the crowds, the construction and the US Capitol.
We found a reasonable place to wait near the American Indian Museum, for the dark to bring the fireworks.
When night finally fell, the rockets glared red and the bombs burst in the air.
At the finale, we saw the Capitol bathed in light, and then we walked off into the dark to get my car.
Thanks for reading my blog about this day that gave me so much pride in being a furniture maker in the land of the free and the home of the brave!
Other websites to look at:
This summer, we are offering a special promotion on our outdoor lanterns. You can dress up your covered porches and outdoor rooms with one of these lantern designs, even get an upgrade with outdoor wiring and finishing for no additional charge. All lanterns can also be made with picks to accommodate candles. In my humble opinion, this is a really good deal. Our summer offer applies to orders on standard sizes placed within the months of June, July and August. You can order Mansard Tole Lanterns (as shown below), Mizner Lanterns, Venetian Lanterns, Gothic Lanterns, Foliate Lanterns, Voliere Lanterns, and Zinc Lanterns.
As beautiful as this composition is, you still need a closer look at our Mansard Lantern, shown below in its normal Cupric Green finish. The top is amply vented if you want to use candles instead of electric lights.
That’s how it looked with fat candles in this outtake from a 2004 Garden Design story on my home. Today I’d just pop in LED candles and never light a match, or worry about putting out the flame.
We just made a Mansard this spring in a large custom size of 28 sq by 44” h and finished in Gilt Rust.
Moving on to the Mizner Lantern, we originally designed it to go into a rehabbed home in Palm Beach created by Addison Mizner, the archetypal architect of that resort community. We created a new finish, Palementa, to echo the shimmering seas.
It caught on there, and here you see it in Washington Spaces story on a 2009 showhouse. The designer Draza Stamenich (www.drazastamenich.com) created this serene laundry room illuminated by our Mizner and papered with Gracie wallcovering. This gracious space is not your normal laundry room at all, but I might better enjoy drudgery here. Notice I don’t show you how crummy my own laundry room looks.
Atlanta designer Liz Williams hung it in the midst of a Christmas scene she created for a 2008 Atlanta Showhouse. She also used our St. Cloud Dining Table and put fun slipcovers on our Regence Dining Chairs, to create a cool, serene look.
We’ve made the Mizners teeny, as this one.
And big too.
For a market that Architectural Digest sponsored in June 2012 for consumers with major buying power, we created this display featuring our Mizner hanging above our newest outdoor chair, the Melbourne. We loved it that AD picked our Melbourne Chair to feature to these consumers. May they love it as a chair and as a chaise longue. We’ll be happy to make any and all line extensions.
Which one is standard?
The hallmark of Niermann Weeks is pure silhouette. Never hidden behind extraneous decoration or crystals, this Venetian lantern casts beautiful shadows reflecting the shape of itself.
Speaking of the magic of light and shadows, this Gothic lantern gives us a surprise by bringing the various shadows with its simple and clear lines. Sweet dreams must be brought to you with these shadow flowers blooming on your porch.
The Palissy lantern is an excellent piece for both indoors and outdoors. NW has U. L. license for inside use and outside damp use (must be covered by a roof). Foreign U. L.s is also available.
Our DC showroom is highlighted by the elegant and shining Palissy.
How does it manage to bring such interesting light effect? Take a closer look at this being-made Palissy – candles inside and out secretly echo with one another. They make light fun.
It can be huge, too.
Palissy is not yet the only fun piece. Inspired by a birdcage, the Voliere lantern adds into the room just enough playfulness to give you a good mood.
Going with a cheerful red, it pops out with its unique shape and creates a fun environment.
Baby and standard Volieres.
Thanks for reading my blog!
This is my kind of town, Annapolis is
My kind of town, Annapolis is
My kind of people, too
People who smile at you
And each time I roam, is Annapolis
Calling me home, Annapolis is
Why I just grin like a clown
It’s my kind of town
With a nod to the famous songwriter Sammy Cahn, I’ve used his hymn to Chicago for Annapolis. This blog concerns my recent historic home pilgrimage around the city as well as a peek into the secret gardens of our Historic District. Even though most of them lack Niermann Weeks furniture or lighting, I hope you enjoy visiting these places with me.
First, let’s go to Whitehall, a colonial mansion dating from the 1760s. In an overcast morning I’m standing about 100 feet from the mansion, and about 100 feet behind me lap the waves of the Chesapeake Bay. In his pre-air conditioning world, the British Governor Horatio Sharp built this summer home to catch cooling breezes off the bay. These breezes lessened the misery of our awfully humid summers.
In its day, Whitehall defined luxury but now it sits empty and unloved. The bricks need re-pointing, the paint needs refreshing, blinds are falling in the windows, and the fabulous plantings cry out for the tender care of a professional arborist. The only care my eye saw is that the grass was being regularly whacked. What an incredible shame for the first Palladian home built in America.
To learn about the home when it was lived in and loved, borrow from your library a copy of Annapolis Houses, 1700-1775 by Deering Davis (1947). Also to see eight photos collected by the Library of Congress’ Historic American Buildings Survey. Look at
Another colonial home, Hancock’s Resolution, has met a better fate. It reflects the lives of a successful farming family in the colonial and early federal periods. Built in 1784-1785, this home is an example of early Chesapeake architecture and one of few existing stone buildings of that period in our county. The Hancock family lived in near-isolation, managed their own mostly self-sufficient property, and ran a teeny store for their faraway neighbors. This website gives more information at www.historichancocksresolution.org
In the living room the bedstead takes up about 40% of the available space. Ma and Pa would have slept there on a mattress stuffed with corn husks or some other rough vegetation. Thank goodness for modern mattress technology!
A picket fence behind the house encloses a small kitchen garden. These “walking” onions spread as the bulblets drop off to root into even more onion plants.
Leaving history to return to modern days, I toured a dozen secret gardens in Annapolis’ downtown Historic District. Walking over to get our tickets, our group saw this sign on a building being re-habbed.
None of the rest of the tour was that vulgar. In fact, it was filled with beauty and good ideas. Our hydrangea season is just beginning and showing off in blue-purple tones.
The oak leaf hydrangeas also have exquisite blooms with delicate pinks amidst the white.
I want a water feature at home so was thrilled to see good examples, like this one flush to the surface with mini hostas planted between the pavers.
Or like this one raised up so one could sit to enjoy the sights and sounds of the pond.
Or like this naturalized style.
My water feature at home right now sits in a blue container on the porch that’s filled with tadpoles from the mama and papa Green Tree Frog.
Mama and papa let me observe them in action, or maybe they were too busy to notice me.
But enough about the private lives of amphibians, let’s conclude with Niermann Weeks and water features. My own pool was recently scouted for a magazine shoot, so we had it all gussied up with Italian Chaise Longues, Hadrian Planters with colorful floral baskets, and Loggia Dining Arms Chairs in painted teak surrounding a Camargue Table. The big white cast iron planter is an antique that Joe restored out of fragments.
Thanks for coming on this vicarious tour of my favorite town, Annapolis, and thanks for reading my blog.
This year’s DC Design House raised funds for the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC, the only exclusive provider of pediatric care in the Washington metropolitan area. We in the design community created 23 gorgeous areas in a beautiful home in NW Washington, and Niermann Weeks proudly loaned many products. Our project attracted over 10,000 visitors and collected almost a quarter million dollars. Way to go, DC! All the little children thank you.
But now, of course, I must show you how different designers wonderfully presented their spaces, most using Niermann Weeks. I must also credit the paint company Farrow and Ball, whose paints gave a varied and serene look to all the wall surfaces.
Entering the Georgian style home, my daughter Eleanor Niermann and I came into the foyer designed by John Matthew Moore, who had nestled our round Lucien Table into the staircase curve. The Lucien’s dark mahogany finish contrasted crisply with all the other paler tones.
His amazing portrait of three white swans anchored the adjacent reception hall. His remarkable painting technique made us feel these mighty birds were right with us, safely, but at our eye level. Our Cambon Bench quietly tied these compelling swans to the neutrals in the hallway.
Moving into the Parlor by Annette Hannon, I was pleased how she quietly incorporated our Thistle Ceiling Fixture into her room for receiving guests. Its gold leaf finish provided a perfect foil to all her tones of pewter and beige.
Photo by Robert Radifera
Our Thistle throws fascinating shadows onto the ceiling.
Moving upstairs, we entered the master bedroom by Sharon Kleinman of Transitions. She transformed a difficult room with little open wall surface, too many doors, and little natural light into a very restful space. Farrow and Ball’s paint on the wall and trim gave her a simpler palate than what she found on the walls, and then she used our Biarritz Ceiling Fixture and Sconces to cast a glow.
Winding our way back downstairs, we were blown away by two rooms, L’Orangerie by Kelley Proxmire and the Dining Room by Shazalynn Cavin-Winfrey of SCW Interiors. Oh media gods, please take note of the strong design talent exhibited by these two DC interior designers.
Unfortunately, Kelley Proxmire did not use any NW products in her Orangerie. Nonetheless I must commend her on her bold use of color, in this case the strong oranges with the neutral grays. She wields this color combination like the maestra that she is.
Photo by Robert Radifera
Look at how Kelley combined black, and white, and peacock with our Rive Gauche Chandelier in this room in the Washington Design Center in 2010.
Returning, however, to the 2012 DC Design House, Shazalynn Cavin-Winfrey of SCW Interiors presented a lovely and practical vision in the Dining Room. Fortunately for us, she had incorporated many NW products in her interior. For me, her room provided the premier space in this showhouse. She let the antiqued mirror of our Monaco Chandelier diffuse light throughout this shadowed room. To further lighten the space up, Shazalynn placed a glass table top right under the chandelier. She also upholstered our English Club Chairs in an airy, floral fabric. To separate this dining area from a more informal visiting area, she used our Baltic Console as a room divider. Our console provided an obvious break between the two areas yet allowed one’s eyes to look right through it. That’s our also Italian Sconce on the yellow back wall, but more about that in the next image.
On either side of the dining area, Shazalynn created a nook for relaxing informally. She placed our Italian Sconce on the wall as well as our round Fantome Table to hold drinks and accessories.
To the side of the dining area, the designer placed a custom Fantome Bench with an inset metal shelf to hold kindling for the fireplace. How lovely and clever all at once.
All of us at Niermann Weeks give thanks these designers for creating beautiful spaces, showcasing our products, and supporting DC’s Children’s National Medical Center.
Thank you also for reading my blog, and be well!
Websites to Check Out:
The interior design industry depends on our relationships with each other and with our clients. These relationships strengthen into friendships over time and through mutually survived crises. Recently I have been with long-established friends in Memphis, where Niermann Weeks started; in Boston where Niermann Weeks is repped at M-Geough; and in my own Maryland factory with tours from two groups of budding interior design professionals.
The students form the future of our industry, so we have always been open to giving tours of our factory, offices, and showrooms. Professor Nancy Evans of The George Washington University brought a busload of her students to our factory. I had never been so honored as to have a bus deliver my guests, and it was a real boost to my ego! Nancy is standing in the shade, second to the right in this photo, surrounded by her graduate and undergraduate students.
Nancy’s student Rose Kaspersen caught me explaining how we install our antiqued mirror onto our Mirabeau Table. All the photos of the GW tour are courtesy of Rose.
Rose watched with fascination as raw products morphed from their ugly duckling, raw stage into a finished product. This Iron and Crystal Chandelier provides the most dramatic example with its different component materials – steel both forged and formed, copper, plastic-coated electrical wiring, and molded resins.
Random looking collections of stuff hold the different items that we include in another fixture.
Our artists transform this stuff with multi-layered finishes, referring to our master samples and controls.
Here Alarise and Heather attach the beads for the fixtures they’re working on.
Finally the product is ready for our client’s home or office, protected in our warehouse until shipping day. This giant Rinaldi Chandelier hangs from the ceiling until it’s crated.
GW’s Professor Nancy King regularly brings her students out to our factory, and one of them, Joley King now teaches students of her own at the nearby Catonsville Community College. Joley stands here on the left with her class in our warehouse.
Heather shows them how she attaches the bead strings on our Danieli Chandelier.
Dave demonstrates cutting antiqued mirror so that it fits exactly into its place onto finished furniture.
This completed Monaco Chandelier for DC designer Wayne Breeden probably best shows off his skill.
I am really proud of all our designs, production work and artisans, so it is always my pleasure to show them off. Doing so to budding interior designers allows me to begin Niermann Weeks’ relationship with them. Their first clients may not select our products, but future ones will, and these young people now know us and understand our work. We are all fortunate in this encounter.
Thanks for reading my blog, and be well!
Websites for more information include: