A huge part of Jesses inspiration comes from historic french architecture. In the palace of Versailles, you are exposed to the most accurate form of this architectural design style in our eyes. We had the opportunity to experience this when Jesse and I (John-Luke) had the opportunity to take a road trip from Barcelona to Paris, where we stopped in Marseilles, Cassis, Lyon, and Versailles along the way. Our experiences in each city were unique, exposing us to a range of unique art museums, historic tours, and truly amazing examples of architecture that gave us glimpse into the past. Travel is an important pillar of reference for Jesse’s design process and historic design details serve as period specific characteristic references for a given custom home design style. By experiencing this range of designs from different periods in history, and understanding the historic root origins of different characteristics and details, Jesse is able to design homes of the desired style through his own unique lens. There is a fine line to walk between his originality and a nod to the classic essence of each architectural design style. It is curiosities such as looking back at how local zoning by laws to see why homes of the area are defined proportionately, that gives us context about the origins and roots of different design styles. These curiosities and glimpses into the past have shaped our love, and our never ending hunt for timeless design in every category of design including custom home design, interior design, and landscape design. Today we wanted to talk about our visit to Versailles, where we found a love for interiors that are composed of an eclectic mixture of unique finishes, antique or artistically focused furniture, collectable art, and sculpture as these elements offer a timeless elegance that mass produced furniture could never offer.

True to this sentiment, and truthfully, during our visit to the Palace of Versailles we were enamored with the sheer opulence and scale of what we believe is an incredibly well planned compound. History oozes out of every facade, hallway, and garden pathway and we couldn’t help but to imagine the historical events and the experiences of the influential historical figures who have walked the very same grounds. While the architectural design style of different wings of this grand structure has been modified and added to by several architectural designers over hundreds of years, one thing that has stood the test of time is the luxury that every detail throughout this palace exudes, despite its variance of periodic styles. Indeed, this grand palace was once a small hunting shack used by royal families, and expanded through the centuries into what today is an example of the opulence of the French Nobility that has been said to have lead to the French Revolution.

As we entered the palace we were fascinated by the level of craftsmanship and detailed execution while using such unique materials and design details. Some of the most impressive examples of this to us were the detailed marble work, the gold cornice and door trim details, and the incredible ceiling paintings. However, what we thought was most important was the density
of these features throughout the palace that creates such architectural interest no matter where you look. A similar standard was held when looking at the principles of timeless design including symmetry, the structures ability to harness natural light, materials that stand the test of time, and the creation of an indoor/outdoor connection. The hall of mirrors is a great example of these principles as it is a highly designed space in the palace where you can find all of these elements working together harmoniously to create what is one of the worlds most stunning spaces. The use of symmetrical windows characterizes the structure from the inside out, and the alignment of this area with the famous gardens are, by themselves, defining features of the palace. On one side of this grand hall, that spans the length of the central building, is a series of symmetrical windows, and on the other is over 350 mirrors that are meant to harness the sun’s light into the palace, a show of Louis XIV’s power, otherwise known as the Sun King. Oddly enough, the hall of mirrors was more of a corridor than an area in the palace that the king would spend time in; in fact it was said that it was designed to characterize his morning walk from the bedroom to the chapel each morning. This lavished and cohesively experiential approach to the design of the palace serves as an example of a seemingly mad commitment to having beautiful surroundings, even in the seemingly mudane parts of your day. Both Jesse and I admire this and, though we wouldn’t want to emulate it, after we learned how the story ended, we do believe that our enjoyment increases when spending time in a highly curated space. We could only imagine how beautiful Louis’ morning walks to the chapel were, as this hall looks onto the gracefully designed gardens that span as far as the eye can see.

The gardens were designed in conjunction with this hall, offering the indoor/outdoor connection that is so important to Jesse when designing homes, but on a much greater scale. If you follow our firm on social media, then you know how important and prominent this concept is in each of our design projects. In fact, it is for this reason that when Jesse is sketching his floor plans, he is simultaneously placing his garden beds and exterior landscape layouts in order to have a seamless flow. However the gardens of Versaille are incredibly unique for another reason beside their scale, or the contents of the unique trees that were transported from different areas of France. These gardens feature several water features that require millions of liters of water to be brought into the region from several kilometers away. The ponds and fountains of Versaille are quite a spectacle, as they were designed to reflect light onto the facade walls of the palace during the morning hours. These ponds were also designed and placed to work with the 150 meter elevation change from the palace in a way that makes them look bigger as they get
further away, cheating the eye and hiding the stairs and slopes that would lead one to believe it was a flat landscape. This end result was 40 years in the making, and is surrounded by over 1400 smaller fountains and 400 sculptures.

While the beauty of the gardens is important to us, so is the 32 years of execution it took to develop hydraulic pumps, wells, and a network of water transfer systems that would support the water shows that started in April of 1666. The water engineers of Versailles were responsible for learning a range of tasks including how to manually operate, repair, replace and expand
sections of piping, replace ball valves, hydraulic pumps, and lead piping using ladle welding. In fact it was this process of construction of the underground network of pipes and water transfer systems throughout the grounds that inspired the creation of modern day hydraulic pumps. What is even more fascinating is the sheer manpower it required to create this network of
tunnels, grade the land, and perfectly manicure every aspect of the multi-acre property. To Jesse and I it is a symbol of the unwavering commitment to excellence in design and execution, sprinkled with a bit of madness of a monarchy committed to opulence. We find inspiration in this as we continue to strive for a similar standard of custom home design excellence.

Categories Travel
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