Modern design in old walls

Palace of Versailles

Since November 2013, the Palace of Versailles has been home to a striking new installation – “Gabriel” – which was created by French designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec in collaboration with Swarovski.

To some it might look like a giant necklace, to others a luminous liana – but the one thing the installation probably won’t bring to mind is an ordinary chandelier. And neither should it.
In 2011, designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec won a competition organized by the Public Administration of the Palace, Museum, and State Property Department for Versailles, in which the aim was to create an artwork to decorate and illuminate the Gabriel staircase at the main entrance to the palace with its first ever modern objet d’art.

While Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec may not have opted for a conventional chandelier design, they did choose a classic material: crystal. The challenging design demanded perfection and the courage to innovate.
“There is no other firm dealing with crystal that has achieved this level of excellence in terms of research, innovation, and technical excellence. The collaboration was exceptional because of the culture of precision that Swarovski applies unconditionally; the culture of working to one-tenth of a millimeter, applied to a twelve-meter production. Swarovski was the perfect partner.” (Ronan Bouroullec’s opening address at the Palace of Versailles)

The “chandelier” is twelve meters high, contains 858 crystal components, and weighs 500 kilograms. Its 5,148 LEDs emit plenty of light for at least 100,000 hours without technical faults.