Nikolas Weinstein was born in New York City into a family involved in the visual arts. His aesthetic derives from a long-standing interest in the natural world. The influence of organic forms on his work dates to a young age, established during his internships at the American Museum of Natural History and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. After moving to San Francisco, Weinstein briefly worked as a graphic designer’s assistant before founding Nikolas Weinstein Studios.
Nikolas Weinstein and the artists in the Nikolas Weinstein Studio produce glassworks for commissions, custom projects and limited editions series. The glassworks range in style, form and color, including architectural and contracting works, objects, and lighting pieces. The pieces vary greatly in size, from just a few pounds to multiple tons. The works that Nikolas produces at the studio are primarily “natural” forms that resemble the organic shapes and colors of the natural world.
Glass is a difficult and temperamental material to work with, requiring artists to work quickly with precision under hot and dangerous circumstances. To create works of large-scale, cohesive and familiar teamwork is essential. An integral and important part of Nikolas Weinstein’s work is the collaborative teamwork of the studio. Similar in organization to historical glassmaking guilds and studios, Nikolas Weinstein Studio consists of artists of different skill levels bringing with them skills in design, fabrication, collaborative studio work and fine arts that enhance the range of the studio’s work and ability.
In the Spark “Taking Craft to the Limit” episode, we watch the artist and the studio team work on two pieces: a large architectural chandelier piece and a commissioned work of strung glass beads. The “Pariser Platz 3 Chandelier” (named after the street on which the building is located) was commissioned by renowned architect Frank Gehry to hang in the atrium of the DZ Bank in Berlin, Germany. Weighing two and half tons, the chandelier consists of 34 glass panels suspended on cables across a 2,000 square foot glass ceiling. Despite the word “chandelier” in its title, the panels are not lights, but are designed to enhance the openness of the atrium by dispersing light without obstructing the view through the glass.
Like many artists who push the boundaries of traditional materials, Weinstein continuously challenges himself to invent new processes to accomplish new ideas. For the chandelier, the studio built a custom kiln to arch the panels into the desired shapes. For the beaded piece, Weinstein created a strong armature of metal wire from which to suspend the blown glass beads. In both cases, Weinstein and the studio had to solve a myriad of technical and design problems in the execution of the works, challenging the usual fabrication methods of the material.
Nikolas Weinstein Studios
Where: 1649 Valencia St., San Francisco
Phone: (415) 643-5418; studio visits are welcome, please call for an appointment.