[caption id="attachment_2436" align="alignnone" width="411"]Joe Niermann, CEO of Niermann Weeks, draws plans for a new creation. One of his opulent chandeliers hangs overhead. Image courtesy Niermann Weeks.[/caption]
When Joe Niermann, CEO of Niermann Weeks, facetiously says “I’m just a greedy businessman,” his assistant protests. The truth is that Niermann is both businessman and artist. Trained in color theory, he even studied the art of fakery. He learned Venetian, Roman, and Neopolitan styles of paintings by restoring them.
He makes models for his chandeliers from cardboard and considers the art of designing lighting fixtures akin to sculpture. He’s inspired by travel to Bali, Indonesia, Russia, and Latvia, but also by the past. Recent ideas come from the 1940s and 50s. He avoids the conventional. Trips to flea markets in Paris provide inspiration (and materials).
The showroom in the Pacific Design Center displays his creations: fabulous chandeliers—many with candles, wrought iron, and crystal, some with diamonds. Metal and glass predominate, as well as intricate designs at once elegant and ornate. But Joe also designs antique furniture and paints. Closed to the public, Niermann Weeks sells exclusively to trade—interior designers who sell to the likes of Jack Nicholson, Bill Gates, Madonna, and Tom Cruise, among others. Joe’s creations can be spotted in casinos and hotels in Las Vegas, Japan, even Kuwait. His costlier items are sought by Hollywood A-listers and others of that ilk; the most expensive chandelier here, a Biarritz, sells for $18,000.
Niermann, too, has favorites. “My favorite (chandelier) is the Rive Gauche,” he says. Made of iron and crystal, it is both classic and imaginative. The apricot beeswax candles are incredible, unique. It’s a work of art.
Beginning as a “home” business, Niermann Weeks opened its first showroom 25 years ago and now has 20. Niermann is still hands-on as creator and designer; he designs nearly all of the chandeliers and lighting fixtures. He’s also half of a husband-and- wife team that has garnered numerous awards for its original antique furniture and lighting. Despite expansion to several cities, he and wife McKay have managed to keep it a family business.
Now—with teams of designers and engineers who work from Joe’s cardboard designs—Niermann has found his calling as entrepreneur and creator. Ultimately, he says designing chandeliers is not strictly about money or even art.“I just like to have fun,” he smiles.