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UNESCO Creative Cities Forum

In the framework of the 12th Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Etienne (28 April–22 August 2021)

Par Sonia Hedhibi


Unesco Creative Cities Forum during the Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Etienne 2019 © CACSF Photo

Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Etienne

●      Major event in the world of design since 1998
Driven by the city of Saint-Étienne, the only UNESCO Creative City of Design in France, and by Saint-Etienne Metropolitan Government, the Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Etienne, organized by the Cité du design and the Saint-Etienne Higher School of Art and Design, is a major event that has enabled Saint-Etienne to successfully enter the international design agenda since 1998. 

Since 2015, the Biennale has been honouring the creativity of cities: Seoul in 2015, Detroit in 2017, the UNESCO Chinese cities of design in 2019: Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Wuhan. 

The 2021 edition proposes to honour the creativity of an entire continent: Africa. Its inspiring practices and the plurality of African design will be particularly highlighted through the exhibition "Singulier Plurielles" curated by Franck Houndégla.

●     Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Etienne 2021: Bifurcations, choosing the essential
In 2021, for 4 months, from 28th April to 22nd August, the Biennial will take place on more than 10,000 m², with six exhibitions and a mediation route for visitors. Visitors will discover objects, services, and installations. The Biennial establishes a dialogue with the players in the discipline, around the Cité du design but also, with around a hundred events, in museums, galleries, shops, social centres and public places in Saint-Etienne Metropolitan Government and Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region.

The theme of the 12th Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Etienne is "Bifurcations". In March 2020, France branched off in record time. The course of our lives has changed, radically. The lockdown experience, lived simultaneously all over the world, is overwhelming. As a result of this event, thinking about the bifurcations becomes an issue that mobilizes the entire profession of designers and its allies to open a cultural debate that cannot be ignored at the heart of our techno-industrial society. 

Africa, a continent in the heart of contemporary ecological and political issues, is the special guest of this edition. Its inspiring practices are the subject of the "Singular and Plural" exhibition. The five other exhibitions show the challenges of design in the areas of everyday life: domestic spaces, the automobile industry, the body, ways of learning, modes of consumption and production.

At home - Panorama de nos vies domestiques
Autofiction - Une biographie de l’objet automobile
Singulier plurielles - Dans les Afriques contemporaines
Dépliages - Corps/accord avec l’objet industriel
Le monde, sinon rien - Rêver, apprendre, renouer               
À l’intérieur de la production - Débats sur le design

What does design already do? What more can it do? What else can it do?
This 12th Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Etienne encourages those involved in design to set off on an adventure, to take a step aside to explore new paths, here and now, and to experiment with other possibilities, collective, sober, adapted to each context: in a word, this Biennial is an invitation to take a fork in the road.
The Cité du design and the Saint-Etienne Higher School of Art and Design have designed the biennial event for all audiences, design initiates and non-initiates alike, envisaging situations of individual bifurcation, collective experimentation, creative, agile, and innovative acts.
The Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Etienne is in line with the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

UNESCO Creative Cities Forum: Exploring the potential of "Bifurcations of Cities" 

●       Context
In response to the 17 UN SDGs, the UNESCO Creative Cities Forum is focused on the following question: what kind of bifurcations for a sustainable, resilient, inclusive, egalitarian and caring city?
In collaboration with the City of Saint-Etienne and Saint-Etienne Metropolitan Government, the Cité du design and the Saint-Etienne Higher School of Art and Design are launching a call to the UNESCO Creative Cities to intervene at the Forum. This Forum aims to highlight the creativity of the cities in order to provide concrete answers to the following questions:
-         How do cities experiment with other ways, collective and respectful of ecosystems (biodiversity, etc.) ?
-         How do they support the development of new practices in habitat, mobility, health or education ?
-         How do they promote new ways of consuming or producing ?
The speakers will focus on practical achievements developed in one of the 6 themes selected by the Biennial:
-         Habitat
-         Mobility
-         Health
-         Biodiversity
-         Education 
-         Production

How to participate ?
Presentations will take place in Saint-Etienne but also virtually for people who cannot travel. The event will be hybrid. 

Date: 28 April 2021
Time: 2pm to 4pm CET
Each speaker will have 20 minutes (15 minutes of presentation and 5 minutes of discussion time).
Applications should be sent by e-mail to before the 22 January 2021 at 23:59. 

The candidate(s) must specify in the proposal:
- Surname/ first name/ structure/ city
- Chosen theme (health, mobility, biodiversity, habitat, education, production)
- Summary of the presentation (300 words max)
- Link with one or more of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals and/or the health crisis (optional)
- In support, images, links to the videos allowing to better understand detail your presentation

Par Sonia Hedhibi

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