SAINT-ETIENNE, FRANCE 21.03. – 22.04.2019
The leitmotiv of this Biennial: “ME, YOU, WE, CREATE COMMON GROUND” explores the theme of reconciliation and the creation of a common future beyond all differences.
Unfortunately this topic is too vague and little explored by exhibitions on site that have little or no connection to this theme.
Biennale Design 2019
« SYSTEMS, NOT STUFF »
The first of the two main exhibitions aims to illustrate that design is less objects than systems behind these A multicolored scenography, inspired by the Etienne ribbon industry, brings together quite disparate objects and approaches: the examples on display are either already well known (for example Pantone for color), or they remain on the surface of the problematic, like artificial gills to survive despite global warming or a wheelchair with embellishers decorated to express inclusion objects.
The section in concern with the problem of plastic pollution shows a few more projections on creations in response to this topic: recycled or bio-sourced plastics, materials created by bacteria or fungi.
CHINA – GUEST OF HONOR
The other main exhibition « EQUI- LIBRE » offers a panorama of design in China from the past to the future. The selection and the presentation are quite random, no relation is shown between ancient, current and future products.
The exhibition continues with some diverting installations like this wall of umbrellas in motion, or the intriguing but incomprehensible projects suspended in a stylish grid…
…and ends with a presentation of the big Chinese cities in a metallic scaffolding construction.
All while cautiously avoiding to mention the human problems of this country, yet these being in connection with the theme of the biennial.
« DESIGN IN TECH »
The pioneer of digital design John Maeda highlights the prominent role that design plays today in production systems. He develops the contributions of “computational” design (design involving the calculation of algorithms and data applied to software and to the equipment). A complex reflection, insufficiently illustrated by walls lined with slogans on the condition of design in companies and society, colorful stair treads and some giant pictograms.
THE EXHIBITION “UNFOLDING”, THE HONORABLE EXCEPTION:
The change in the distribution of the budget of 3.3 million euros – only 35% are this time financed by the private (entries + partnership + corporate events), against about 70% in 2017 is felt by the absence of inspiring projects in co-creation with companies. The presentation of the local companies gives them visibility, but lacks foresight.
With concrete examples, the designers of several companies (Invacare, Michelin, Focal, Solomon, Bic, Cinna, EDF, Suez, etc.) explain how they design a product – what are their inspirations, their key values, the creation and manufacturing processes.
« RESURRECTING THE SUBLIME »
An olfactory installation where the perfume of vanished flowers has been reconstructed thanks to biotechnology offers a moment of poetry.
This makes us forget the fact that she is out of the subject and set in a huge empty space which highlights the absence of projects of the same level.
Biennale Design 2019
In the end, this Biennale of design, poor in content and little accomplished in reflection, leaves us rather unsatisfied. Let’s hope that the next edition will revive the richness of the previous sessions.