• Saint-Étienne

With 500.000 inhabitants, the metropolitan area of Saint-Étienne is the 2nd urban center of the big metropolitan hub in our Rhone alps Region. Saint-Étienne 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-Étienne, 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-Étienne 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-Étienne 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-Étienne 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

Chinese UNESCO Creative Cities, guests of honour of the Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Etienne 2019

For its 2019 edition, the Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Etienne has focused on Chinese design. Shenzhen, Shanghai, Beijing and Wuhan – the 4 UNESCO Design Cities…

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“Challenging the City Scale” final book of the European project Human Cities 2014–18

Final book of the European project Human Cities 2014–18: An inspiration tool to co-create more human cities with inhabitants and creative people.

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Review: Forum UNESCO Cities of Design “Cooperation & Impact” in Saint-Etienne

The Forum "UNESCO Creative Cities - Cooperation and Impact" reflected on design as a strategic lever and economic and cultural exchange.

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11th Bienniale Internationale Design Saint-Étienne

For the Biennale Internationale Design 2019 Saint-Etienne will embrace the challenge of “Designing common Ground”, as proposed by Lisa White.

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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