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The Palace of Versailles, illuminated at night.

Once serving as the center of the French court, the Palace of Versailles is a wondrous work of French architecture now left to tourists, scattered political functions, and the history books. A vast, imposing government complex and residence for reigning kings, the palace was built in 1631. Known for its ornamental design both inside and out, the palace was also home to glorious gardens that took decades to complete.

Renowned for its extravagant Hall of Mirrors, as well as serving as the site for the signing of the famed Treaty of Versailles, the palace — or château — was built in four phases, and underwent numerous transitions with its occupants. Now, students and professional designers have been called on to put their talents into ‘building’ something new for the Palace of Versailles.

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Entrants are asked to create their own 3D printed take on the historical furniture piece.

With a contest running from December 10th, 2014 to February 22nd, 2015, the Palace invited 3D printing enthusiasts to add a modern twist to a piece of furniture relating to an architecture which has historically been transformed throughout the times and whims of its rulers.

The ‘18th century, Birth of Design’ exhibit is underway at the Palace of Versailles until February 22nd. Entrants were asked to recreate their modern, 3D printable version of a Louis XIV commode designed by André-Charles Boulle — or to create another similar object or piece of furniture. The exhibit itself highlights furniture masterpieces from 1650 to 1790.

It’s good to get the terminology issue out of the way right now for all the Americans wondering about the use of the word ‘commode.’ If you aren’t familiar with historical European furniture, you might not realize the term commode is often used to refer to an ornamental cabinet of lower height — rather than a modern toilet that has the capability to flush.

Shaped like a sarcophagus with two opening drawers, the commode stands on four ‘arched’ legs, with a great deal of gilt ornamentation, including a winged female head and a lion’s paw. The piece is an example of classic French furniture, and was a derivative of the larger dresser with eight legs. The individual piece is considered to be unique and to have been made as an experimental work, most likely customized upon request of the patron.

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‘Converseuse Commode Hackée’, by Vincent Coste

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‘Mademoiselle E,’ by student Julie Cazaux

The competition was open basically to all artists. The potential designers each received a 3D file of the Boulle chest of drawers along with photos and a full description of the piece. On creating their own piece of work, they were to send their design file back, with the jury then working in two phases to one, create a shortlist of five designs—and two, choose a final winner. For choosing the shortlist, the jury looked at:

  • Winning level of creativity and innovation
  • Contemporary elements of the design
  • Technical feasibility with 3D printing
  • Commercialization and marketing potential

Now, the designs are being turned over to you. Here’s your chance to put your two cents in and vote for your favorite entry. The deadline for entries was January 18th, and now the jury is ready for you to give your input online, with winners being announced on February 23rd. This is a great opportunity to be involved with something of amazing historical significance on several levels, as well as supporting the community of makers.

In an awards ceremony on February 23rd, the two winners will be awarded their prizes which are unique in that they will each be presented with their own PR campaign to include:

  • An article for both regarding their winning designs in the news from the Palace
  • Promotion on the home page of both the English and French versions of Hack King’s Design
  • A fully designed, printed, and distributed press release
  • A full-color half-page article per winner in Carnets de Versailles

The jury is composed of a substantial group of individuals experienced in architecture, art, landscaping, photography, museum curation, and more.

Are you planning to vote for an entry? What impressed you the most? Tell us, as well as sharing any ideas regarding 3D printing and furniture in the Best 3D Printed Cabinet, Louis XIV Style forum over at 3DPB.com.

Below is a 3D rendering of the actual commode, in 3D:

Below is one of the student entries by Jeanne Talonneau:

Below is one of the professional designer entries by Omar Mangold:

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