• Saint-Étienne

With 500.000 inhabitants, the metropolitan area of Saint-Etienne is the 2nd urban center of the big metropolitan hub in our Rhone alps Region. Saint-Etienne was an industrial city from 19th century centered on coal mining, metallurgy and the manufacture of cycles, arms, machinery and textiles (trimmings). These are the roots of design. Economic crises in the second half of the twentieth century forced the city to develop new economic axes and new competitiveness centers (mechanical, medical, technologies and textiles, surface treatment, optics, machinery), higher education and design. With its remarkable history allied to industrial modernity, Saint-Etienne, land of creators and inventors, is a constantly changing city, driven by a dynamic linked to the arts and industry. Saint-Etienne gives to culture a predominant place, festivals and events programmed by all the stakeholders contribute to the cultural prestige of the city (Museum of Art and Industry, Museum of Modern Art, Mining Museum, Le Corbusier Heritage in Firminy, etc …)

The urban transformation process in Saint-Etienne started at the beginning of the 1970’s.Saint-Etienne has begun a metamorphosis launching  an  urban project and the realization of great architectural  buildings. The Cité du design was founded in 2005 by Saint-Étienne City and Metropolitan government, was born from the strong development of design education, and the success of the Saint-Etienne International Design Biennial. Located on the site of the former Royal Arms Manufacture, the Cité was inaugurated in October 2009, in an avant-garde space designed by Finn Geipel and Giulia Andi. It is a platform for observation, creativity, teaching, training and research through design. The Cité du design and the Saint-Étienne Higher School of Art and Design are part of the same structure, and work towards a common objective : to develop research and innovation through creation.

The City of Saint-Étienne and Saint-Étienne Metropolitan government have defined a strategy for action which uses design as a structural tool in economic, social and cultural development. The aim of their strategy is to design an innovative, attractive territory with a stimulating, high-quality living environment.To implement this policy, they have created a design manager position acting across their services. The design manager aims at raising the administration awareness on design and developing the integration of design within the procurement contracts.

In 2010 Saint-Etienne became the first French city to join the UNESCO creative cities network as city of design.Thanks to concrete initiatives such as the creation of the Cité du design and the International Design Biennial, Saint-Etienne has adopted design as an agent for urban transformation and for economic development. Relying on the creativity of its territory and the engagement of both the public and industrial sector, the city is reinventing itself, leading its numerous small and medium-sized enterprises to innovation, and improving the quality of its citizens’ urban living environment through design.

Facts and Figures


Around 500.000 (greater metropolitan area)


79,97 km2

Educational institutions

5 schools of higher education (arts, design, architecture and engineering) with approx. 18.000 students

11000 entreprises (the highest concentration of SMES in France)

Cité du design

Museum of Modern and Contemporary Arts

Museum of Art and Industry

Le Corbusier (heritage site in Firminy near Saint-Étienne)

La Rotonde (Centre for Sciences, Techniques and Industry Culture)

Discover Saint-Étienne

Publication: Design takes up residence

In 2014 the French Ministry of Industry launched an ambitious programme for businesses the Designers in residence scheme. To further disseminate the benefits of this programme, it is now important to remember the methodologies developed: this is the purpose of this compendium.

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Exhibition: Are You Talking to Me?

Coproduced with the Centre des Arts of Enghien-les-Bains, the exhibition “Are you talking to me?” is the result of the call launched by Cité du design Saint-Ètienne to the UNESCO creative cities of Design on the topic of connected objects.

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Saint-Ètienne Design Biennale 2017

For its 10th edition the Biennale has invited Detroit to be its Guest of Honour so that it can share its experience as a resilient city, in the midst of “shifting work paradigms”.

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Call – Saint Étienne International Design Bienniale 2017

Call for applications to take part in the Saint Etienne International Design Biennial 2017 within the framework of Saint Etienne #FrenchTech

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Entretiens Jacques Cartier 2016

After the success of the symposium «Living Lab, catalyst of responsible and local economic development» in November 2015, the Cité du design will organize a second symposium with the international network of French-speaking Living Labs.

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Call for Connected Objects

In context of the exhibition “Are you talking to me?”, the 22 design cities, members of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network are invited to propose a preselection of 5 to 10 connected objects in various fields.

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Joint Initiative Kobe & Saint-Etienne

After the invitation of Saint-Etienne designers Elodie Vichos and Guillaume Granjon (KAKSI design studio) in February 2015 in Kobe, to realize a workshop with children at KIITO design centre, Saint-Etienne will host a designer from Kobe to make a workshop with French children in July 2016.

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Shenzhen Design Award for Young Talents 2015

For the 2015 edition of Shenzhen Design Award for Young Talents (SZ+DAY 2015), Saint-Etienne won 4 Prizes amongst the 17!

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Exhibition «Mi-temps» at Cité du design

The Cité du Design poroposes a special exhibition in the framework of the UEFA EURO 2016. Mi-Temps (Half-Time) reveals the universe of soccer, its history and its future, through its fundamental elements: balls, field, myths created around the players and the clamour of supporters, which give it its force and power.

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