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:
Autumn brings the climax of the earth’s growing season and makes me happy. The plants I’ve babied since March, are now at their peak. The frost hasn’t hit yet, but the outside colors are becoming intense. My summer clothes are trading closet space with the winter wardrobe. Weekends I’m in my garden gathering seeds for next year to plant next spring and also to donate to the annual Seed Exchange of the American Horticultural Society. My daughters and I have begun planning our Thanksgiving celebrations, which are so traditional that little planning is required. Wikipedia says that many cultures represent autumn as a well-fed woman, like this 1871 Currier and Ives image,
or like me.
In the late autumn my pineapple sages have grown into huge bushes with sprays of glorious red flowers. Just before the hummingbirds migrated, they gorged at these flowers. Amazingly my plants started in April as baby herbs of just a few inches in height. I never eat them, however, as the September flowers give me too much pleasure to waste any. Our salads include enough diversity from the garden.
Unusually, Annapolis experienced some snow just before Halloween, about two months earlier than we expect,
but the very next day presented as a study in autumnal beauty.
Along with my pastoral enjoyments, autumn also brings closer connections to our showrooms and stocking dealers. My daughter Eleanor Niermann visited the M’Geough showroom at the Boston Design Center where she took this photo of our lighting. Hanging all in a row, starting from the left, are our round Armillary Chandelier, shimmery Palissy Lantern, and the baroque lines of our Vivaldi Chandelier.
Niermann Weeks’ stocking dealer Mayme Baker is also featuring our Vivaldi on the top right of her holiday postcard.
Just now Mayme sent me this view of a bedroom she designed, where she included our William III mirror and the fabulous (her word) Danish Commode. Thanks, Mayme!
My daughter Eleanor, lucky woman, is in Nantucket for a designer trade show with the M’Geoughs, and she sent me a photo of our favorite restaurant for clam chowder. Unfortunately, Captain Tobey’s is already closed for the season, but my family has eaten many a happy meal there.
The trade fair at the White Elephant Hotel gave my Eleanor a happy surprise in her conference room – a custom version of our Wrought Steel CoffeeTable.
I’m now packing for my trip to Dania, FL to speak about the greening of lighting technology. On November 8, come see me in the Nessen showroom at the Design Center of the Americas and earn some CEU credit. Keeping me company on the plane ride south will be this Halloween photo of my grandsons Dylan Michael and little Evan McKay. Just looking at an image of these little boys makes me so very happy.
In the meantime, please look at these websites for more information:
Thanks for reading my blog!
WOW! That’s it in a nutshell. I haven’t been to a design function in twenty years that was so well promoted and attended. Joe and I had to push through the crowds just to enter the building, had to wait for an empty elevator, and had to push through the crowds in the halls and in our own showroom. My heart was tripping with joy.
Our sign on the ninth floor.
The view of our showroom from the hallway with our Andres in the purple cardigan helping a customer Andres has been with us since we opened our first Manhattan showroom, and his product knowledge is as immense as his courtliness.
The beautiful rugs in this room and throughout are on gracious loan by Stephanie Odegard, whose showroom is also in The News York Design Center.
Just inside the door, to the right of this photo, my daughter Eleanor created a vignette that she knew would please me. Our Gabrielle Chair and Ottoman are right there as a comfy, elegant spot from which I could greet our visitors. To the left stands a Henry Royer Side Table holding our Chinoiserie Tulipiere. Joe designed the plant holder as a Chinese pagoda in honor of Charlotte Moss, who like me loves all things Chinese and all things floral.
The plant holder includes a water well in each level, so mine at home displays seasonal flowers: asters right now, and at other times pansies, tulips, miniature irises, roses, daisies, etc.
A lovely customer at the opening bought this diptych Rolling Pathway by Douglas Freeman. I like this vignette for its composition of samples from our various vendors. Including Douglas’s work, you see Niermann Weeks’ Octagonal Mirror, Spectrums’ Edinburgh acrylic table, and Henry Royer’s Frisson Hall Table.
Our Lighting hung through the showroom, and here glows over our ever-popular Steel Four Post Bed with the Fantome Bench at its foot. The bed rests on another outstanding Odegard carpet and is flanked by a pair of our Danish Commodes. The Sienna Chair is by Gemelli Reproductions.
The New York Design Center directory scheduled my daughters Claire and Eleanor for demonstrations from 3-9 pm – oh their aching feet! Claire showed how we by hand wire and attach the beads to our chandeliers, and Eleanor applied silver-leaf on various items to show a step in our processes. As a proud mama, I greedily enjoyed hearing customers sing their praises.
Eleanor had already silver-leafed three of our Baccello Mirrors as door prizes.
Congratulations to our lucky winners!
- Dane Pressner from D’Aquino Monaco, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Heather Hickling from Jaime Drake Design Associates, email@example.com
- Suzana Monacella from McMillen, firstname.lastname@example.org
To add to our evening, Traditional Home sponsored a book signing by Matthew Patrick Smyth of his new book Living Traditions. Trad Home’s editor Ann Omvig Maine introduced Matthew before his hand started cramping from all the book-signing he did.
Joe and I stood ready to refill Matthew’s glass of sparkling water. Don’t we look absurdly happy?
Our friend John Danzer from Munder-Skiles of the fabulous garden furniture, also came up to chat with Ann and with a startled looking Joe. Joe should know that my camera is ever-ready!
Our opening was big enough news to attract interior designer/blogger Elizabeth Orgera from Shorely Chic in Darien, CT. Now that’s cool.
Tomas Georgi, the newest member of the NW team, stopped giving tearsheets for a moment so I could include him in this blog.
Joe and I finally left for a party featuring a great bluegrass band, BBQ, and cornbread. We abandoned our daughters who doggedly continued their demonstrations for all comers.
Even the Chrysler Building cheered Joe and Me on, as we trudged to our hotel.
When I left for the train home the next morning, I got to see public health at work in Penn Station. The free clinic for flu shots attracted as many people as the NY Design Center had the night before.
Thanks for reading my blog, and please do come see our digs at The New York Design Center (at Lexington Avenue between 32nd and 33rd streets). Tomas and Andres are expecting you.
Websites for you to check out:
Husband and wife team Joe Niermann and Eleanor McKay started the Niermann Weeks Company in 1978 in Memphis, TN, and their daughters Eleanor and Claire Niermann grew up working with them and the company. The family moved to Annapolis, MD in 1984 and relocated the business to their new home. Today, the company’s artisans continue to make each piece of lighting and furniture by hand in studios near the Chesapeake Bay. Joe’s designs combine his inspiration from 18th century neo-classicism through 20th century French Moderne with the comfort of 21st century Americans.
The family remains fully involved with the day to day operations of the company. Joe designs, Claire fabricates, and Eleanor & Eleanor keep you up-to-date about our hand made creations for your home. We fully understand that for your nest, you need goods made of high quality, a finish palette with a great feel, the proper scale, and comfortable beauty. That’s already been engineered into our broad selection of lighting, beds, tables, seating, cabinets, fabrics and accessories. Our family builds so your family can live surrounded by usable beauty.
Our company is also dedicated to maintaining life on our shared planet. We use sustainable resources and continuously work to reduce waste in our processes. This our home planet, too, and we all live here together. When you place a Niermann Weeks piece in your own home, the investment in your lifestyle further supports our planet. We promise!
That said, please take a moment to watch the video below to see how we work at Niermann Weeks.
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 email@example.com
We frequently notice product trends pop up in studios, and the latest one is for custom sconces. A few of the recent orders were for relatively simple size changes, but we’ve also worked on some really interesting totally custom designs.
We just finished a pair of Biarritz Sconces with a double leaf design to add more height. Here are photos of the standard sconce next to the taller version.
We also just completed a pair of sconces based on our Brindisi Chandelier. These are going into what must be an impressive dining room in a residence near Los Angeles. In addition to the usual beads on the chandelier, the designer had us add an antiqued mirror backplate to the sconces to really make a statement on the wall. Here is a photo of the standard chandelier, as well as some process shots and a finished shot of the custom sconces.
Back on the East Coast, we just shipped an order of eight custom hurricane sconces to a residence in Florida. The back plate of the sconce was loosely based on our Mercure Sconce, and we worked out the rest of the details with the designer through CAD drawings and renderings.
We found out a lot more than we expected about custom glass during this whole process. It turns out that they make glass moulds out of tree trunks, and we had to wait a while for the glass company to locate a trunk large enough to use for the large glass globes. The finished sconces have great presence, and we’re looking forward to seeing the installation shots.
Finally, we’re nearing the end of the design process for a coordinating sconce for our new Crevecoeur Chandelier. We’ve gotten so many quote requests for them that we will be adding a standard Crevecoeur Sconce to the line very soon.
The Designer Showhouse of New Jersey recently wrapped up in Saddle River, NJ. The Designer Showhouse’s purpose is to raise funds and awareness for the John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, NJ. Our New York showroom staff worked with some of the showhouse designers to loan some Niermann Weeks products.
Timothy Miller of Timothy & Associates in Pearl River, NY designed the Atelier, using our Armillary Chandelier and Hadrian Planter. Andres Sampedro, one of our New York salespeople, was able to visit the showhouse in person last month, and Timothy kindly sent photos of his room to us in Maryland so we could also see how it turned out. Here’s an overview of his room.
Timothy also sent us some great detail shots from around the room, including a close up of the dramatic folding screens, the artwork above the striped cabinet, and the room reflected in an antique mirror.
Barbara Ostrom of Barbara Ostrom Associates designed the showhouse dining room featuring our Swedish Crystal Chandelier. The bold yellow walls make a great backdrop for the chandelier’s delicate crystals and gold leaf finish.
We’ll be looking forward to working with our New Jersey and New York designers on the fifth Designer Showhouse of New Jersey next summer.
Editor Note: Eleanor McKay is recovering well from her surgery, and we expect that she’ll be back in the office by the end of the summer. In the meantime, our summer guest blogger will be her daughter, Eleanor Niermann.
One of the most fun things about working at the Niermann Weeks factory is seeing all the different products in process in the studios. Lately, we’ve had a run of lanterns in all different sizes and finishes.
Our Mizner Lantern is usually 21 dia by 31h, and we are currently finishing up work for a Connecticut client for a larger custom sized lantern that measures 32 dia x 45h. You can see the standard size on the left and also in the background behind the bigger lantern in the studio.
Our Voliere Lantern design, which we based on an antique birdcage, is another item that is frequently customized. We recently made one that was our smaller standard size (16 dia x 21h) but we painted it with a custom lilac accent color to match the customer’s sample. We also just completed a custom larger version for a customer in Palm Beach. It measured 32″ diameter by 40″ high, and we added a second tier of lights.
We had a series of Gothic inspired lanterns and sconces that we worked on with Beverley Broun for Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia (www.historicchristchurch.org). We offer our Gothic Lantern in three standard sizes (from left): 11w x 11d x 18.5h, 15w x 15d x 24h, and 24w x 24d x 39.5h.
The church got some in the smallest size, and then we scaled the design way up for three more giant lanterns measuring 36w x 36d x 56h, each with two tiers of lights. We also made them some custom sconces with mirrored backplates.
Finally, we are putting the finishing touches on a completely custom lantern design that was based on a photograph of an antique lantern from a designer in Florida. We created a CAD rendering (below left) of the lantern at 36 dia x 55h with a stockier frame than the original. The lantern will be going onto the covered porch of a house in Highlands, North Carolina, and will have four chains attached to the corners to tether it into place. The seeded glass they selected looks great against the simple dark custom finish.
We really enjoy working on custom projects with our designers, and it’s always fun to see the variety of their ideas come to life from the initial sketch or sample to the finished product.
Hi all, this is Eleanor Niermann, the daughter of Eleanor McKay & Joe Niermann. My mom is the regular author of the Design Dispatches, and has asked me to help contribute to the blog over the summer. I thought I’d start with one of my favorite topics, Annapolis, the town our family calls home. Niermann Weeks has been operating in the Annapolis area since our family relocated here from Memphis in 1984. Our first three shops were in the city of Annapolis, but after ten years, our increasing need for more working space meant a final move to our current location in Millersville, about 20 minutes north of Annapolis.
Annapolis is a great city to live in and visit any time of the year, but the month of May is especially exciting. Not only does it herald the start of summer, but this week before Memorial Day also brings series of events during the United States Naval Academy Commissioning Week. Every year, the families and friends of the graduating class flock to our town, many of them moving into private residences rented out by residents for the week. I have two of those families on my block in Eastport this year, and it’s been fun to watch them enjoying a taste of life in my neighborhood. Although it does make me wish I was on vacation, too!
United States Naval Academy
One of the favorite days for permanent residents is Wednesday, the day that the Blue Angels, the United States Navy’s flight demonstration team, brings their air show to town. Justin Binnix, our president, has taken off this year to go watch them with his wife and their three sons. When my sister and I were young, one or both of our parents would invent a reason to pick us up early from school so we could go downtown and watch the show. Now the school system here has finally come to grips with the fact that serious learning is just not going to happen on Blue Angels Wednesdays, and there is basically a liberal leave policy in effect so both students and teachers can enjoy the show. Even though the rest of us are in the office today, we will definitely both see and hear the Blue Angels loop around our shop just past 2 p.m.
The culmination of the week comes on Friday with the actual commencement and commissioning service held at the Navy Marine Corps Stadium. This event will bring even more visitors, including Vice President Biden who will be giving the commencement addresss. I always make sure to leave early that Friday since my ride to the office takes my through downtown and past the stadium. The entire brigade marches in formation from the Academy to the stadium, and our little town is not designed to easily deal with all the extra cars of the graduation attendees. Despite my traffic gripes, the ceremony is impressive and entertaining, from the speaker to the sight of the hat toss to the Blue Angels fly over celebrating the newly commissioned US Navy and Marine Corps officers. Congratulations to the class of 2010!
United States Naval Academy Graduation, hat toss, and Blue Angels fly over
The 2010 blizzards of our discontent have now officially become history, as the Washington Design Center held its spring market on March 10. In my yard daffodils are blooming, in the skies Canada geese are flying north, and in the design center designers are smiling again. Business seems to have picked up, for which we are all grateful.
Entering the building, you are greeted by Kelley Proxmire’s reinterpretation of the lobby. As is her wont, Kelley’s design is fresh and crisp and intensely colorful. The lipstick reds just kiss visitors hello, and our Crillon Chandelier lends the sparkle of its rock crystal drops.
Then you take the elevator up to the seventh floor, get off, and come right into the best showroom in the building: Niermann Weeks. My daughter Eleanor and our design development manager, Bill Gardner labored for a week to completely redo the 8,000 square feet showroom, which made Joe and me really proud of their efforts. Entering our door closest to the elevator, you are greeted by a mélange of furnishings from us and from the William Switzer company, shone over by NW’s new Crevecoeur Chandelier.
You need to zoom in on the Crevecoeur to love its swooping curves and its shimmery Veronese silverleaf finish. Joe had planned to festoon this fixture with crystals, but its metal architecture didn’t need the extra embellishment. Consequently he and Justin decided to develop a plush texture under the silverleaf. They worked on various base coats between the metal frame and the silverleaf before handing the fixture over to our painters.
Then presto, the Crevecouer Chandelier!
That chandelier is a hard act to follow, but Eleanor gladdened her mother’s heart by putting flowers in our Chinoiserie Tulipieres. We designed these with Charlotte Moss for her former retail store in Manhattan. The pagoda shape fascinates Charlotte, so Joe created these multi-level vases for her. Behind each golden grate is a well of water for tulips or other flowers. Further pleasing me, Eleanor even reflected my current fascination with lavender tones in this composition.
Look into this Switzer mirror to see Bill Gardner taking photos of a new wallpaper by Studio E.
This paper is called Stella and the color way is Dusk, Flash Gold. Studio E’s Denise Vasaya took this silkscreen splatter pattern of glitter on a neutral background, and then she made it register top and bottom as well as side to side. The glitter looks so random, but the designing hand has improved it for perfect matching on the wall. I was ready to re-do our living room, but my husband rolled his eyes and restrained my enthusiasm. This paper looks alive, changing subtly in various lights and with various colors around it. You really need to go see it, as a color memo just doesn’t convey the punch of the entire wall.
This vignette also shows how well all our lines coordinate with each other. You’re seeing
* Stella Wallpaper by Studio E
* Italian Plant Stand by Niermann Weeks
* Murano Lamp by Nancy Corzine
* Ashanti Mirror by Niermann Weeks
* The spectacular inlaid Le Signet four-door Cabinet by William Switzer
And here’s Denise from Studio E caught in a snapshot.
Dennis Hunt from Nancy Corzine posed with my Eleanor and our salesman Brad Boswell in front of Nancy’s new Coral wall covering. Nancy has the remarkable ability to capture the pure fragility of celadon tones in all her work, whether fabric, wall coverings, or furniture finishes.
Further, Nancy Corzine understands how to make large scale easy to live with in any environment. Her sectional sofa, the Marina, accommodates many people altogether in comfy style. Then she designs her coffee tables like this Museum Coffee to nestle right into the sofa space, for keeping drinks and food easily at hand.
Also joining us for market were Malou and Patrice Humbert of La Forge Française, standing in front of their Sophie Table. Patrice is a master of wrought iron, having trained extensively in France in his art. Today he and Malou operate their forge in Southampton, NY, where they create one beautiful piece after another.
The first piece of their that I ever saw was their
Vincennes Console. By hand Patrice had formed the hard steel into floating ribbons. My word, he is a talented man!
In this showroom vignette, Eleanor and Bill gathered some of our most popular lighting fixtures with some of La Forge’s most popular tables and fireplace accessories.
Andrea Elish from Savel came down from NY for the day, and spoke about her newest fabric line “Saladino for Savel”, with Stephen Drucker, the editor of House Beautiful.
She showed him our Gustavian Klismos Chair upholstered in Saladino’s mohair in an ambiguously neutral purple/grey/pink tone. The metal console is by La Forge Française, and the diptych comes from my man Joe Niermann.
Now look at this arrangement of our outdoor fabrics and furniture. We thank the fabric designer Nomi for her new Tangiers and Labyrinth collections for the ancient patterns on our pillows. While the patterns are from cultures past, she weaves her fabrics of 100% solution-dyed materials that will be happy in your yard or patio. Our seating, bench, and tables will be happy there too, but our Bagatelle Chandelier must be in a covered area to retain its UL guarantee of safety.
For market, Joe brought various models into the showroom, since he likes to get designer input into NW’s newest design concepts. After making rough sketches in 2D, Joe translates them into 3D with hand-cut cardboard, manila folders, and plywood.
What a kick – Stephen Drucker is taking a photo of this chandelier mock up.
Later Joe used monofilament to hang the mockup next to our Baldachino Ceiling Fixture. We need to see how the model consumes space, how easy it is to see through, how the bead structure (the white
bands) will look, and generally how people react to the overall look of the fixture.
How do you like the concept?
NW’s Bill Gardner and I took all these photos. You already know me, but you need to meet Bill, artfully leaning on our Louis XVI bed. He’s a handsome addition to this scene, and you can also admire the floral bed coverings made from our newest fabric line, Telafina. I love the meandering of these vines and flowers along the duvet. They look as relaxed as Bill does.
Turning from admiration of the Niermann Weeks staff and showroom, I need to send you to two other blogs for really interesting discussions of Stephen Drucker’s panel at the DC market. He, Celerie Kemble, and Jamie Drake shared their experience on “Interior Design Today: The New Rules.” We all know the rules were in flux even before the recession, and they chatted about more recent changes. Celerie and Jamie agreed that customers now value anything artisanal, showing craftsmanship, and custom-made for a client – sounds like you need to make a road trip to the Niermann Weeks showroom in DC or NY. However. I won’t even give you a hint about the bloggers’ analyses. You really need to see for yourself at:
Now please go look at these websites for more information, and thanks for visiting my blog. It’s been a pleasure.
Come to the Nancy Corzine showroom this Wednesday, March 24th and Thursday, March 25th during Pacific Design Center’s WestWeek 2010 and meet with Eleanor McKay and Eleanor Niermann! They’ll be spending time in the showroom and meeting with visitors about all that is new and exciting at Niermann Weeks.
WestWeek 2010: Design Revolution is a two-day market chock full of insight and information that will address this provocative double-barreled theme in three keynote panels, more than 50 showroom programs, new product line introductions and book signings.