The Gabriel Chandelier by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec is the first permanent contemporary artwork to be installed at the Château de Versailles and hangs over the Gabriel Staircase at the main entrance to the palace.
"We thought that in the final analysis it was not perhaps necessary to give a delineated form to this piece of lighting but rather to try to arrange it so that the form naturally found its line from gravity," said the designers.
"Because it is effectively the number of pieces of crystal which make it up, the weight and the length determine this form rather than a curve which we would have drawn."
Manufactured by crystal brand Swarovski, the 12-metre-high installation comprises 800 crystal modules threaded around a stainless steel skeleton containing an LED lighting system.
"It seemed to us that crystal was the best response because, historically, all the chandeliers at Versailles were made with this material," the designers added. "This would ensure a link between past and present."
The Gabriel Staircase was conceived by french architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel in 1772 but was never completed. Work resumed in the 1980s, then Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec won the commission to create a permanent artwork to adorn and illuminate the finished staircase through a competition launched in 2011.
Photography is by Studio Bouroullec.
Film is by Juriaan Booij.
Here's some more information from the designers:
A dramatic new chandelier created by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec with the support and expertise of Swarovski will light up the entrance to the King’s Grand Apartments at the Palace of Versailles from November 2013.
Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec won the commission through a competition launched in 2011 by the Public Administration of the Palace, Museum and State Property Department for Versailles to create a permanent mobile artwork to adorn and illuminate the grand Gabriel Staircase at the main entrance to the palace.
The award-winning designers created a majestic chandelier made of Swarovski crystal whose sweeping grace and modern lines integrate harmoniously with the historically charged location. The piece, which is over 12 metres high, is suspended in loops from the ceiling like a luminous transparent chain. It comprises three interlacing strands, each made of hundreds of Swarovski crystals illuminated by luminous LED light-sources which diffuse a gentle, continuous and encircling light.
These immense, supple lines form an organic design ruled by the laws of gravity which each viewer will experience differently as they gradually ascend the two flights of steps of the Staircase.
To create the chandelier, the designers chose crystal, the material traditionally used in the making of chandeliers for ceremonial rooms, in order to establish a strong link between the past and the present. They called upon the expertise and technological mastery of Swarovski, the prestigious Austrian crystal business, which has a longstanding collaborative relationship with the brothers and has supported the Palace of Versailles for more than 30 years.
Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec’s creation is a delicate yet complex alliance of crystal and innovative lighting, two areas in which Swarovski has long become the point of reference. The project forms part of Swarovski’s major programme of cultural support and ongoing patronage of art and design.
The Gabriel Staircase, a monumental space conceived by Ange- Jacques Gabriel in 1772, was never completed. Work resumed in the 1980s, but the finished staircase lacked a focal point. The installation of the ‘Gabriel Chandelier’ in November will enrich these historic surroundings, emphasising the entrance to the Grand Apartments whilst preserving the unique nature of the space.