Until 12 April, Saint-Étienne (Rhône-Alpes) is hosting its four week-long International Biennial of Design. Now in its ninth edition, this year’s event is under the direction of new curator Benjamin Loyauté – a designer who is currently showing an exhibition of his own at Saint-Étienne’s École Supérieure d’Art et Design as part of the biennial.
A budget of €3.5 million has brought together artistic and cultural centres from around the region in a blend of cultural events, exhibitions, conferences and seminars throughout the month. Participating centres include Saint-Étienne’s Museum of Modern Art, Firminy le Corbusier, Mining Museum and Museum of Art and Industry. Many independent art and design agencies are also hosting events and exhibitions as a wider part of the event.
The biennial’s main hub is Saint-Étienne’s Cité du Design – an exhibition and event space on a former industrial site, dedicated to the promotion of art and design with the support of the French Ministry of Culture. A range of exhibited objects and installations explore the theme of ‘Le Sens du Beau’, or ‘the meaning of beauty’, in respect to aesthetic and utilitarian design. These range from contemporary furnishings, crockery and electrical items to futuristic inventions such as ‘Mother’ by Xaho Design – a motion-sensored video camera that supervises children when their parents are too busy to keep an eye on them, sending them updates via text and email. The future of design innovation is explored as well as its evolving dynamic between functionality and aesthetics in a world of increasingly globalised industrial production.