Mr. President of the Regional Council (Mr. Jean-Jacques QUEYRANNE), Mr. Mayor of Saint-Etienne, President of Saint-Etienne Métropole (Mr. Maurice VINCENT), Members of Parliament (Mr. Régis JUANICO, Member for the Loire and Mr. Jean-Louis GAGNAIRE, Member for the Loire)Architects (Mrs Giulia GEIPEL and Mr Finn GEIPEL, Agence LIN)Mrs Elsa FRANCÈS,Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am particularly pleased to be here today, among you, for the inauguration of this City of Design, because it is the realization of a great project, a great design: that of bringing together, in a single space, a higher school, exhibition spaces, creation and research. This is an exemplary achievement.
I like the term “city”: it refers both to the living place of the city, an urban space, but also to a civic space. It says the exchanges, the living-together of the disciplines, activities, people, which are destined to be welcomed in the same space, in a continuity between creation, research, teaching of course, but also industry: it was, in a way, inscribed in the very nature of design to carry such a project of «City». Because design is an ideal intermediary between art and technique, as well as between art and our everyday life: it is a kind of ambassador of creativity in our daily lives.
Creativity is also the word that comes to mind in view of the architectural success of this ensemble that we visited earlier, which perfectly combines the renovation of manufacturing heritage and the creation of innovative buildings: the «Platinum», in which we find ourselves, covered with this “Skin” of panels, a beautiful metaphor that almost assimilates this building to a living being – and then the truly impressive “Observatory Tower”. I want to talk about, when I see these projects, “architectural design”, or even “urban design”: they are really like a skin, they reveal a lot of what they cover, look like it and announce it.
What this architecture announces is the model of these poles of excellence that I want to develop in the teaching of culture. Today, everywhere in France, poles of this nature, poles of competitiveness, or poles of research and higher education are developing. It is a logic of pooling forces that can be explained by the search for national and even international visibility. There is no reason for culture and art to be an exception. This City of Design beautifully demonstrates this.
I often insist, as I did this morning in presenting my department’s budget to the press, on the requirement of transmission. For me, the culture will be social or not. “Social”, that is to say, registered in society, able to capture the trend and reflect it in all its components. I am tempted to say that there are no “noble districts” for culture and that transmission is a duty for all. Transmitting is also the vocation of the École supérieure d'art et de design de Saint-Etienne, a recognized school of excellence, which will have, in this new city, the ideal conditions to train no less than 350 students. Our higher education institutions already have a more than satisfactory rate (of 75%) of professional integration of students at the end of their training, this movement must be further amplified.
The requirement of transmission does not only affect education; it also concerns, of course, audiences, all audiences, who do not always know very well to identify «this obscure object of design», to resume, with my cinematic sensibility, the title of one of the exhibitions currently presented in the Cité… The title of the second exhibition seems to do everything to titillate the Minister of Culture, who is also the Minister of the French language (and languages of France): Who’s afraid of design. Forgive my French!... Both open the doors of innovation and give the public a privileged access to design. This inauguration day is also an opportunity to discover the school’s new furniture, which is really very successful. I will ask my advisor (Francis LACLOCHE) to canvass to see what could be imported to brighten up our premises of the Palais-Royal…
The demand for transmission now benefits from an exceptional instrument, digital technology, which I identified as one of my priorities when I arrived on rue de Valois. I would also like to take this opportunity to announce that my department will be launching an online design portal on the Internet before the end of the year, bringing together the four main public collections or funds for design and decorative arts.
This complex, this space is not, however, a «city in the clouds» or a «State in the State», but it has found in Saint-Etienne the best point of attachment, in complete continuity with the territory in which it is rooted. It is not for me to remind you of the industrial epic of your city: the fact that Saint-Etienne welcomed the railway in 1827, that Manufrance, the emblematic brand of your city, was a pioneer of mail order sales, long before the Internet. I also know that this extraordinary industrial tradition has experienced, because of the cycles of the economy, moments of anguish and suffering. But this innovative spirit that is the trademark of Saint-Etienne knows how to be reborn, adapt, find new terrain, new challenges. This City of Design is the symbol.
I don’t want to monopolize the floor. I simply wanted to express my deep interest in design through my presence here today among you. I hope that French design, one of the most dynamic in the world, will continue to shine and I know that this City of Design will contribute greatly.