FACTUAL What if the design were the best tool to meet the climatic, societal, and ecological challenges of tomorrow? Around the theme of “Bifurcations”, the event proposes for four months to take new paths.
For its 12th edition, the Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Etienne saw things on a grand scale: a duration of four months (until July 31) compared to four weeks in 2019, around a hundred exhibitions and 250 events on the territory of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region and beyond, including the Saint-Pierre church by Le Corbusier in Firminy (Loire) and the former Saint-Etienne mine, now a museum. The chosen theme is just as ambitious: “Bifurcations, choosing the essential”, in order to awaken imaginations and clear new paths for development for our societies faced with the urgency of environmental and societal challenges.
To do this, British historians from Kingston University in London, African creators spotted by curator Franck Houndégla for their practice “outside the established channels” (Africa is the guest of honor at this edition), Cubans highlighted by their compatriot Ernesto Oroza for their ability to invent new objects from discarded parts, French – teachers, designers and students of the Superior School of Art and Design of Saint-Etienne (Esadse) – , worked on new ideas, sources of inspiration, debates or projections.
Thus, this edition gives a major place to design, no longer as a producer of objects, but as a critical and prospective tool. The exhibitions offer visitors food for thought in order to participate in the debates that will inevitably arise on possible and desirable futures. Here, “ design does more than question society about its future. He first questions himself, his own evolution which has encouraged the proliferation of objects and his primary role as a scout for our deepest aspirations”, remarks Thierry Mandon, director-general of the public establishment for cooperation the cultural City of design-Esadse.
“A daily tool accessible to all”
This biennale, the longest in its history, installed in 2010 on the site of the former Manufacture d’armes de Saint-Etienne, renamed “Cité du design”, also foreshadows the future of a district destined to become, recently, a permanent place of culture, life, and leisure. The project, called “Cité du design 2025”, plans to strengthen the presence of universities and schools on the site, to set up a hotel, restaurants, shops, a media library, a place of mediation for children…
“Design must show that it is a daily tool accessible to all audiences”, underlines Gaël Perdriau, the mayor of the city and president of Saint-Etienne Métropole, who is determined to “break down prejudices about what Stéphanois perceive again like the forbidden city, a place of production and confidentiality dedicated for more than a century, from 1868 to 2001, to armament, with an architecture closed in on itself”.
If, in 2010, Saint-Etienne became the only French city to join the Unesco network of creative cities of design, it does not intend to lose its lead in Europe. It will also house, with the support of the Ministry of Culture, the future Design Gallery, which will present historical works from the French collections of the Center National des Arts Plastiques, the Mobilier National, and the Musée National d’Art Moderne. and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Saint-Etienne Métropole (MAMC +). This national art gallery – with a permanent exhibition covering 1,000 square meters – should open its doors in the heart of the Cité du design in 2024.