Please join Eleanor McKay, CEO of Niermann Weeks, for a presentation on the changes in light bulb standards. Owners of chandeliers and sconces will soon have difficulty finding standard incandescent candelabra bulbs, because federal law is now mandating their phase-out. With aesthetics being the top priority, she will cover the pros and cons of the available alternatives: CFL’s, LED and halogen bulbs.
The presentation will take place on Tuesday, December 7 at 2 pm in the Niermann Weeks showroom at the Washington Design Center.
Please join mother/daughter team Eleanor McKay and Eleanor Niermann as they share the stories behind the beautiful Niermann Weeks lighting and furniture designs.
Thursday 23 September 2010
10:15 am – 11:00 am Morning Presentation
12:15 pm – 1:30 pm Afternoon Presentation
275 Market Street, Suite 209, Minneapolis
RSVP to Fritz at 612.822.2700 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Western art had been dominated for centuries by the balanced classical styles originally
developed in ancient Greece and Rome like these ruins of the famous Library at Ephesus.
However, starting in the 17th century, Europeans of taste clamored for objects decorated in the
Chinese style. People were fascinated by the new imports showing Chinese landscapes and
types of dress, a mixing of different scales and perspectives within the same image, and a
preference for asymmetry. The French coined the name chinoiserie for this fad, which is still
At Niermann Weeks all our chinoiserie finishes derive from an 18th century English screen
painted in the Chinese style. A real screen coming from China at that time would have rare,
expensive, and hard to obtain, so European artists made a good living imitating the style and
making it more accessible. Joe got our screen in Memphis in the late 1970s. The screen is
extremely fragile and so we have it hung in the office; an office cabinet in front of it, keeps
people at a distance. The English craftsman was as expert in the final lacquer coating as a
Chinese master would have been, and the lacquer is cracking and flaking away all over its
We have developed from this antique our standard Chinoiserie Screen with four panels, but
right now we are working on a customer’s custom order. His screen differs from our standard by
adding another two panels in width and another 18″ in overall height to each panel. This is the
sort of challenge that makes an artist’s day.
David developed a master cartoon for the custom screen and then used a colored pencil to
outline his design on the black boards. He’s now laboriously painting the decorative images,
using a palette of only two colors: gold accented by Chinese lacquer red.
Our antique screen has inspired many other chinoiserie products over the years.
A standard Chinoiserie Cabinet
A custom cabinet in white and gold as well as another in red and gold
A custom Bowfront Commode in a brown/black with reddish gold accents
A Chinoiserie Tulipiere that comes standard in black and gold. A tulipiere was another fad
dating from the 17th century, as Europeans first were introduced to the then exotic blooms of
tulips, crocus, daffodils, and hyacinths. Again we can thank the French for the word tulipiere to
describe a specialized vase in which to display these fabulous flowers.
At home my tulipiere is in white and gold; it sits on a cabinet in the living room and will probably
never hold a flower. It could though, as each of the wells can hold water.
Each rim is also pre-drilled with holes in which the place the stems.
The Niermann Weeks factory is chock full of outdoor furniture almost ready for delivery. For the most part, the frames are finished, and now we’re waiting for our upholstery team to complete umpteen cushions and the glass vendor to delivery glass for table tops. We have various collections, but the biggies this summer has been our Italian series which Joe designed in 1983 when we still lived in Memphis. The Polaroid on the left shows the first lounge chairs made without arms and made in bronze; we later learned to make them with arms. On the right is the first dining chair, made in steel, and it always had arms.
Over the years the Italian series grew to include a chaise lounge, tables of many sizes, and innumerable custom variations.
By 2005 our outdoor orders has grown extensive that it earned its own paper catalog with this picture on the cover.
Right now wherever I look in the factory, I see stacks of outdoor. Our customers are definitely planning enjoy their summer pastimes, and I’m grateful they’ll do it whilst lounging on our furniture.
We treat all this steel, which is the metal most people order, with a special rust retardant, so nobody must worry about rust for years. We also install a nylon pad, just a small recessed button under the metal foot, so it can’t scratch the floor. This process has let people go wild, now that they can put any steel furniture outside.
Years ago we completed my favorite outdoor order for a recently divorced woman who was determined that the house of her single years would be more grand than that of her married years. For her outdoor terrace we made three giant steel tables finished in a dappled gold. It was a real thrill to see the magazine stories about the glamorous home she created. We used one of her tables in an early ad for Niermann Weeks.
I always think of her when I’m enjoying my own terrace.
In another blog I’ll discuss more about our outdoor furniture.
While the Niermann Weeks library includes more than 600 standard designs with 500 faux and clear finishes, over 40 percent of the Company’s business is custom-designed to meet the special needs of professional architect and designer clients. Let Niermann Weeks work with you to customize any one of our pieces to meet your project’s needs, or to develop your dream piece scratch.
Below are some examples of custom pieces that we’ve made over the years.
Coming up, we will be using this space to feature Case Studies on various Custom Projects that we’ve worked on. Please check back often!
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Custom Gustavian Klismos Chairs – Custom Finish and Backsplat
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Custom Renishaw Commode – Custom Size and Non-standard Finish
Custom Blenheim Console – Custom Size and Leg/Base Configuration w/ Custom Marble Inlay Top