From March 14th to 31st the Eighth Biennial of Design in St Etienne is going to take place. This year’s theme is “empathy” or “the experience of the Other“, regarded as learning and understanding the other’s feelings and emotions. Now that sociologists agree on the need to rethink our society on a more human yardstick, the Biennale aims to conceive empathy as the key to making our community more sensitive and attentive and design could be one of the means. This theme has been approached questioning the way designers could anticipate everyone’s expectations through innovation. The Director Elsa Frances asks in her editorial “How to combine empathy with creation? Forget ourselves to meet the needs of others? These questions are generating a passionate debate in the very moment in which new practices are being developed on best way to put the individual and his way of using objects in the center of innovation. ”
The exhibition also reserve a space in digital design and its ability to create closer ties between human beings, but at the same time raising the question on the limits of empathy between man and machine. According to Elsa Frances, empathy allows us to understand the Other and the Creation, in a more direct way than logics, and this could be applied both to the designer and the visitor of the exhibition, since empathy appeals to all senses. In this sense it allows for a new vision of the world.
The exhibition takes place in 6 different areas identified in the map below.
Zone 1: the Cité du Design at the Centre d’Art Moderne
Zone 2: Center of the City of St Etienne
Zone 3: Chateaucreux to Fauriel
Zone 4: Bellevue in Firminy
Zone 5: St Chamond in Rive de Gier
Zone 6: Resonances in the Metropolitan Pole
It’s also possible to refer to Biennial agenda day by day.
Among the many events worth visiting, we may suggest some.
To begin with, the exhibition “Charlotte Perriand et Le Japon” at the Musée d’Art Moderne de St Etienne which highlights the influence of Japan onto the work of Charlotte Perriand. On this occasion new works will be exhibited.
Charlotte Perriand in Japan, 1941, Perriand archives.
We suggest then “Traits d’Union, objets d’empathie” showing the latest innovations in the field of everyday objects.
Axor 2010 Erwan and Ronan Bouroullec for Hansgrohe – Form of bath on 3 levels, formed from a single mold.
Exposure Artifact is a surprising show of free expression of designers.
Noé by Andras Rigler
In “Je-Vous-Design” you can see video interviews on how to develop the feelings in the work of designers such as empathy and “sweat” from the moment of creation, through the identification of product features and the relationship between the designer and the manufacturer.
Kristina Cranfield, Media Mask, 2011
Finally, several workshops in which designers welcome those visitors who want to use their prototypes to give their opinion and give new impetus to innovation.
Spirit One, headphones, Focal 2012
This year’s program is full. You’ll find all the practical information on the website of the Biennial of Design. And for those who are going to visit it, enjoy it!