10 years of encounters, exhibitions and exchanges focused on design and designers!

Affiche biennale An original and unique event in the world of design, inaugurated in 1998, the Saint Étienne Higher School of Art and Design (formerly the original Beaux Arts School) the Saint Étienne International Design biennial, right from its inception, brought together a large number of French and international creators, of widely differing cultural and professional horizons.

The biennial bears witness to the Cité of Design's intense activity, linked to the worlds of business, professional and teaching activities, and is also a large-scale event accessible to all types of public.
15 000 square metres of exhibitions on the Cité du Design site, formerly the Saint Etienne Weapons Manufacture, with three main venues

1998 - 2008: Testimonials

Saint Etienne Metropolis Tourist Bureau - TOTEM

"I have two unforgettable memories of the biennial. The first is from 1998. I was working as a receptionist at the Saint Etienne Tourist Bureau, where I had just been hired for the occasion. We were in the middle of the World Cup Soccer Championship whirlwind, an event on a scale that Saint Etienne had rarely experienced, and I remember that in the middle of all this soccer media hype, a poster particularly caught my attention: it was yellow, and I had already heard that the Saint Etienne Higher Beaux Arts School wanted the biennial to be a major event for the city. My second unforgettable memory was from the 2002 version: Saint Etienne Metropolis had entrusted me with the task of carrying out a satisfaction survey among visitors to the biennial.
A team of students ceaselessly combed the biennial, gathering first-hand comments from the visitors. When we began analysing the results of the survey, I became aware of the strengths and weaknesses of this event which in the following years, was to acquire genuine legitimacy with the public".

Event-driven and economic and tourism observation department agent Image Biennale 2006

"The biennial, since 1998.

In the beginning, we did not have very high hopes: how could Saint Etienne become the Design City, the "black" town, where the only thing that mattered was soccer? And then the biennial quietly travelled the road it travelled… in the eyes of the French public, especially those from Saint Etienne… Design is omnipresent in Saint Etienne, in fact it's always been there, the Museum of Art and Industry provides numerous examples and proof.
Our shops have eagerly thrown themselves into a total Design makeover, thanks to help from Commerce Design, and have given a new image to the town, one that is more modern, more colourful!
For me, the 2006 version was the most striking: The event took over the GIAT site, for the first time I was able to enter it, a place very dear to the hearts of the people of Saint Etienne. I discovered how extraordinary it is. Inhabitants from the city came in great numbers, full of curiosity and amazement, delighted with the event, and eagerly looking forward to the following biennial!
Having worked in the reception area of the biennial site, I was surprised by the number of people that turned out for the event, as well as by the universal character of Design, which speaks to all segments of the public, and which is hidden in all types of activity. I can hardly wait for the 2008 version!"

Agnès Roy
Reception service agent

Testimonials from teachers

"the Design & biennial event" is always a refreshing encounter, where one gets back what one may have forgotten or lost. It is a place of sensations, of learning, of plastic and sensory discovery. It is a celebration for the young and the not-so-young, in order to "reconnect" at all levels. The biennial contributes new energy to the plastic arts, but also revitalises the way the inhabitants of Forez perceive the objects. In the primary schools, the secondary and high schools and even universities, design has become amazingly important! It is part of everyday life. So, thank you biennial, for opening your doors to us, your ideas, the way you change things and the way you look upon the world…"

Lecturer in plastic arts at Collège Saint-Joseph

Image Biennale 2006
"The pupils from Lycée Lumière who are studying plastic arts are very appreciative of this cultural event and eagerly look forward to taking part in it every year.
For the last three years, thanks to the Rhône Alps Regional Council, we have been able to make visits to either the Saint Etienne biennial or the Contemporary Art biennial in Lyon. We believe that this continuity in students' participation in high-profile cultural events is a good way to extend interest after school studies. For this reason we are eagerly looking forward to renewing this participation on the occasion of the next Saint Etienne biennial.
Our teachers were able to put the visit to good use, by subsequently relating it to other aspects of the plastic arts."

Lecturer in Plastic Arts at Lycée Lumière Image Biennale 2006
"The discovery of design not as just another school subject, but more as a tool for exploration of issues of everyday living, a way of looking at everyday life in the town… and the advantages of asking questions about design in training our students to be ready for tomorrow's world… as well as the idea of a "lateral" approach to school subjects, that allow us to "merge" art, history, materials, techniques … and the choices that we need to make in order to live a better life in common!"
"(...) we wanted to tell you how enthusiastic we are after the ongoing training sessions organised in association with the Saint Etienne biennial at Roanne and at Saint Etienne. This extraordinary event has opened avenues to our students and will shape the citizens of tomorrow.
It has also made them aware of the complexity of the "design" issue, and has opened the way to many other subjects in the classroom: not only the arts but also technology, the sciences, history etc. (...)"

Anne Ravat
Visual arts training adviser

Exhibiting designers for the biennial's 10 year anniversary:

• Adam & Harborth - Jörg Adam and Dominik Harborth • Bouroullec Ronan • Cheick Diallo • Delo Lindo – Fabien Cagani and Laurent Matras • Gabriele Pezzini • Medawar Alexandre • Skart Group - Dragan Protic and Djordje Balmazovic • Souche Fabien