Sotheby’s Home: Remembering Joe Niermann
Joe Niermann’s passion for antiques manifested early on. His lifetime collection, started when he was nine, sourced global finds from various time periods. His skillful eye sparked the creation of Niermann Weeks, where he reinterpreted elements of antique design and transformed them to suit modern homes.
Over the years, the late Joe Niermann–along with his wife and fellow preservationist Eleanor McKay–amassed a namesake collection of handmade porcelain, pottery, furnishings and other antiques in their Maryland home, which doubled as the Niermann Weeks company showroom.
Together, the couple traveled the world in search of fabulous decorative accessories. “I loved those trips to China, Bali, Indonesia, Russia, Latvia, Spain, Mexico and, of course, always Paris,” Niermann said.
Before his passing in 2019, Sotheby’s Home asked this iconic designer and entrepreneur to describe his personal collection of exceptional and eclectic artifacts. Niermann said, “I am essentially a collector of collections … I collect what I love at the moment.”
Niermann’s beloved possessions have included world-class assortments of magnifying glasses, shagreen boxes, Russian silver articulated insects and crustaceans, tartan ware, antique silver and tortoise page turners, English tole ware, malachite and Japanese ivory. Especially dear to him was a huge collection of Japanese lacquer–specifically Jubako, which are stacked boxes forming an overall design. In fact, he was drawn to almost anything Japanese, particularly from the Edo (pre-1845) period.
A special collection of Niermann’s objects of affection, now available exclusively through Sotheby’s Home, reflects diverse eras and cultures, all assembled by the man himself based upon his of-the-moment fascinations. Also available is a limited selection of vibrant abstract artworks by Joe Niermann.
TO EXPLORE JOE NIERMANN’S PRIVATE COLLECTION IS TO GAIN INSTANT ACCESS TO HIS UNIQUE AESTHETIC. A HIGHLIGHT OF THE CONSIGNMENT WITH SOTHEBY’S HOME IS THE JAPANESE LACQUER—SPECIFICALLY JUBAKO, WHICH ARE STACKED BOXES FORMING AN OVERALL DESIGN. JUBAKO CAN BE USED AS PICNIC BOXES ON OUTINGS, ESPECIALLY DURING THE CHERRY BLOSSOM SEASON.
Niermann Weeks’ furniture, lighting and decorative accessories have earned international acclaim because the designs borrow elements from the past and reinterpret them to fit current lifestyles. Joe Niermann’s life-long interest in fine antiques and their rich finishes led him to discover that if most furniture could be restored while maintaining the structural integrity and preserving the original finish, then antiques could be cloned into fresh designs to complement traditional, eclectic and contemporary interiors.
“From antiques, I learned the basics of good design shapes and function that have weathered the test of time,” Niermann once told Sotheby’s Home. “A beautiful finish is only as good as the basic shape of the piece. The rest is a micro-vision of how the color and patina were built up over the years.”
Founded in 1978, Niermann Weeks specializes in furniture and decorative accessories that are painstakingly crafted and finished in the company’s Maryland studios. Nearly half of its business is custom design that meets the specialized needs of architects and interior designers. Niermann Weeks’ vast assortment of furnishings–tables, chairs, sofas, dining tables, benches, beds, sconces, chandeliers and other décor–offer more than 600 standard designs and 500 finishes.
Explore the many treasures of the Niermann estate and add a special piece to your own space.
Upholstered in striking green faux-malachite fabric, these gold-leaf painted Annecy armchairs would pop in any living room, den or master bedroom. Joe Niermann once confided, “If I was attracted to a particular object, I usually purchased it immediately totally on impulse.”
Joe Niermann’s over-the-top lion’s head urns will be a stunning focal point in your garden or entry way. Crafted of solid cast iron, they measure an imposing four feet tall and are marvelously detailed with early 20th Century neoclassical-style decorative elements.
Clean lines and a fabulous light green patina make this trio of shagreen trinket boxes a fetching addition to any bookcase, fireplace mantel or credenza. As a special surprise, one of these early 20th Century Art Deco boxes sports a bone pull and another has bone inlay.
Sublime colors and engaging images of Asian scenes decorate this fine pair of temple vases that hail from the late 19th Century. This particular pair, hand-painted in orange, blue and gilt, graced the Niermann home, just as they will uplift your living room etagere or dining room table.
JOE NIERMANN DIPTYCH ABSTRACT
Invite Joe Niermann into your living room, dining room or foyer with this contemporary acrylic painting, created by the man himself. This one-of-a-kind diptych celebrates Niermann’s vibrant spirit on two splendid panels.