An international Biennale


par Raphaël Pigeat

The Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Étienne, the 16th most important cultural event in the world according to Art Magazine is a flagship event that has enabled the french city of Saint-Étienne to make its mark on the international agenda of the design world since 1998. This takes the form of exhibitions presenting international projects, talks that attract experts from every country, relationships forged between Esadse (Saint-Étienne Higher School of Art and Design) and partner schools, between the Cité du design and various different networks, between companies in the district and international creative talents.

Equi-Libre exhibition, panorama of the current state of Chinese design, 2019. Instant, 2018 ©WonderLabs Photo : P.Grasset

In 2020 Saint-Étienne celebrated the sixth anniversary of its designation as a Unesco Creative City of Design, and to this day it remains the only French member of this network.
The Biennale is a privileged moment when these cities come together to explore different issues facing society. The Unesco Creative Cities Forum will examine the bifurcations that can enable us to opt for a sustainable, resilient, inclusive, egalitarian end caring city? The results of a programme of experiments conducted with the Unesco Design Cities on theme of the mobility of the future will be displayed throughout the Biennale.

For this 12th edition, the guest of honour is a continent, Africa. The Singulier Plurielles exhibition, dedicated to efforts and initiatives from all over the continent, encompasses a number of productions and events organised specifically for the Biennale:

— Installation of a "micro-architecture", an original creation by Cheick Diallo, as part of the Parcours des Bifurcations.
He has been given carte blanche to explore the specific craft and industrial skills and know-how of the Saint-Étienne district. Three local companies, specialists in emblematic materials, are have taken part: CFL and Cécoia for the metal and timber structure, textile company Sotexpro and Esadse for the interior design.

— An exhibition of low-tech handwash stations that came out of an Esadse workshop following on from a Senegalese project, whose first versions were trialled in Dakar. For the occasion, the students met with Bassirou Wade, the Senegalese designer-artisan who co-designed the initial outlines of the project.

Several workshops organised in 2021, particularly in connection with the Autofiction exhibition, will be presented:

— Around Autofiction is the result of Mobilités du future workshops which brought together several of the Unesco Creative Design Cities with particular links to the automotive industry (Courtrai, Detroit, Geelong, Graz, Puebla, Turin) to pool their experiences and visions on the subject of shared vehicles in particular.

— A workshop questioning the advent of the electric car and its impact in the Congo based on a project conducted by artist Jean Katambayi in Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, sponsored by the Picha association and supported by the Institut Français in Lubumbashi.

A programme of talks is also planned with international networks of professionals and schools, including BEDA (Bureau of European Design Associations), Cumulus, ELIA, IxDA, and others.

par Raphaël Pigeat

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