Since its launch in 1998 the Saint Étienne International Design Biennial has grown considerably. This edition runs from November 20 to December 05 2010 and is organised by the Cité du Design and the Saint Étienne Higher School of Art and Design. One of the key exhibitions on show is Demain, c’est aujourd’hui #3, dedicated to how we will live in the future.
Curated by Claire Fayolle, the exhibition brings together conceptual products from different industrial sectors to include new means of transport, intelligent urban lighting, music, architecture, hygiene, self-sufficiency in food etc, from international groups, studios and design schools.
Caméra Vision by Takuya Motte is a digital camera that allows you to frame your image by using a sweeping gesture with your right hand; a camera is built into the right shoulder and takes a picture after recognising this gesture. Le Whaf, invented by David Edwards and designed by Marc Bretillot, is a glass vessel for discovering taste and smell through the creation of a cloud of sensations.
Le Chant du Carbone by Pierre Bayol, a student at ENSCi in Paris is an amplifier made from carbon fibre; the acoustic properties of the material allow the amplification of an MP3 player without the need for electricity. Mo is a research project funded by l’Agence Nationale de la Recherche and Cap Digital and explores what a musical instrument of the 21st century could be like in our digital age.
Food and well-being are represented by the Design Probes project by Philips, as well as projects from Eletrolux, such as Cocoon by Richard Hederstierna which cooks genetically-modified and pre-packed meat and fish by heating muscle cells identified by radio-frequency. In addition, projects financed by the European Union, such as Strategic Design Scenarios, are created to stimulate debate around the subject of nanotechnology, GM crops and organic versus intensive farming.
Staying on the food theme, the exhibition includes pieces from the Cornucopia project, Concept Designs for a Digital Gastronomy, by Marcelo Coelho in collaboration with Amit Zoran, Massachusetts Intitute of Technology (MIT). The project is described so: ‘The Robotic Chef is a mechanical arm designed to physically and chemically transform a single solid food object, such as a steak, fish or a fruit. It allows for two types of transformations: localised and precise manipulations performed with an array of tools located in the toolhead; and global transformations performed through the underlying bed and two 5-degree of freedom robotic arms.’
Demain, c’est aujourd’hui #3 is also exhibiting graduate projects from the Design Interactions Department of the Royal College of Art, such as Fabulous Fabbers by David Benqué that looks at how ‘advances in micro-scale engineering point to a global scale revolution where local, disposable factories produce hi-tech goods on our very doorstep. This corporate factory tours the country, setting up in cities for a few months at a time. As the population welcomes a new source of goods, jobs and manufacturing techniques, it is celebrated as an event.’
The exhibition also examines how we will live in the future, with a micro-farm and our own energy generator all around us. Oogst 1 Solo by Frank Tjepkema is a house for one person that provides its resident with food, energy, heat and oxygen. In principle, one could live in Oogst 1 Solo without ever having to leave the house. Pollen by Faltazi, Laurent Lebot and Victor Massip, looks at feeding the city of tomorrow through peasant-style agricultural systems.
The design studio Unfold, Claire Warnier and Dries Verbruggen, are ‘fascinated by a new movement called Personal Fabrication – a trend in which we see a shift from mass produced items to locally, personally produced objects.’ In this research project, the designers are working on a project that combines traditional pottery techniques with new digital media by adapting a printer to enable it to print clay.
The exhibition also includes a range of new futuristic vehicles, such as concept cars and motorbikes from Peugeot, scooters from Elm Design Co, part of Yamaha Motor Co, as well as a new concept town bike Will, part of the Veloce II project by Justine Andrieu and Quentin Caille, created through ENSCi-Les Ateliers university. Will is designed for long distances around the city. It has two wheels that stand at the height of the average adult and a joystick replaces the traditional handlebars.
The curator Claire Fayolle explains the exhibition: ‘Energy production and food concerns are major topics, ranging from self-sufficiency to technological culinary creation. An issue raised and pondered upon is that of alternative production modes, radically transforming the position of designers, producers and consumers. Cycling is in again, thanks to emerging technologies; and cars, even racing cars, are now electric-powered.
‘Objects are mutating: pictures can be taken by drawing on air, video games can be played without remote controls, just with the hands of the players, one can create objects or cook thanks to the use of programmable matter, bathrooms can be machine-washed and even wallpaper has become intelligent… This 2010 edition also suggests a foray into developing countries, showing projects on electric power control and access as well as water transportation.’
The Biennale Internationale Design 2010, Saint Étienne continues until December 05 2010.