Senator Mayor of Saint-Etienne, Dear Maurice Vincent, President of the Rhône-Alpes region, Dear Jean-Jack Queyranne, Members of Parliament and elected officials, Director of the Cité du design, Dear Ludovic Noel Dear Elsa Francès, Director of the Biennale du Design de Saint-Etienne,

I am pleased to be with you today for the opening of the Saint-Etienne Biennial of Design because what is being done here, in this city, in this agglomeration, in this Saint-Etienne territory, seems to me exemplary in many ways. Saint-Etienne testifies to the vitality of public cultural policies, of what they can accomplish formidable when they serve the development of a territory in all its dimensions: economic, social, educational…

Here in Saint-Etienne, cultural policies are indeed creative artistic policies, heritage policies highlighted by the label «Ville et Pays d'art et d'histoire», educational policies for all audiences, but also, and economic policies are still rare in our country. Saint-Etienne was able to invent the territorial economic development supported by culture. It is a success. It is a success for Saint-Etienne, a success for culture. It is a success for France.

What is happening here, around design, with design, is indeed exemplary of how creation and innovation can profoundly transform a territory.

What is at stake here is exemplary, in the way in which an ambitious policy can lead to, can interest, can concern both the greatest number, young and old, while mobilizing all categories of professionals.

What is happening here is exemplary, in the way that creation can be the vector of the international attractiveness of a territory.

You chose the design. It’s no accident.

Choosing design is choosing innovation, and Saint-Etienne has always had a taste for innovation and for promoting it. Already in 1833, you had the project to promote industrial creation and you had created the museum of art and industry. More than ten years ago, you imagined this City of Design, whose buildings were inaugurated in 2009. This city, which rests firmly on its three founding axes: developing the territory through creation, being a player in the development of French design, bringing the requirement of national and international visibility.

To achieve these objectives, you have chosen teaching and research, the synergy of the expertise of engineers, creators, economists and marketing, and you have made sure to anchor this dynamic in your territory by conceiving the Cité du Design as a source of added value and economic development for all stakeholders in the Rhône-Alpes region. Let us be sure, dear Ludovic Noël, that many companies include these approaches in their development strategies.

The Cité du design is exemplary in France of the dynamics at work in the field of design. It is one of the best examples of what an ambitious cultural project can bring to its territory.

I hope you will be able to inspire vocations.

But choosing design is also choosing people. It was not a question for you to create a «high tech» bubble but to imagine a project close to the inhabitants, close to the life of Saint-Etienne, close to the culture of this territory which is a culture of work, a culture of union struggles, strong political commitments.

As you can understand, Saint-Etienne reminds me of Lorraine. We share these common values. Times can be tough sometimes... Deindustrialization, unemployment, poverty, but then a new hope always rises and everyone courageously starts to work.

This is also why I am particularly touched by the theme you have chosen, dear Elsa Francès, for this 2013 edition of the Biennale du Design de Saint-Etienne: empathy or the experience of the other. This tells us a lot about design, its role, its place in our society. While too often we still leave to design the only place of the beautiful object, you will show that design can be everywhere, in all sectors, in all activities of society because it incorporates not only an aesthetic value but also a social utility. In housing, in public spaces, in transportation, in health… the design can be declined in all the components of a territory and contribute to the improvement of the living environment of its inhabitants. To be more sensitive and attentive to the other, to understand the feelings and emotions of the other, to develop new uses and to better respond to their needs and senses.

Empathy through design, therefore empathy through the cultural dimension, because that is also the cultural project of the Nation, that of greater empathy, of greater attention to each other, to all others.

For all these reasons, because design is the example of the successful alliance of culture and economy, of this creative recovery within the productive recovery, I decided to give more importance to design within the Ministry of Culture and Communication.

As you probably know, I initiated this initiative in connection with Arnaud Montebourg, who shares with me this awareness of what design can bring to French companies in international competition. We launched together, and with Fleur Pellerin, on March 1st, the first design meetings that will allow us to find ways to develop our country’s “design culture” and integrate design approaches into corporate strategies. We are currently working on setting up what Arnaud Montebourg called “the French design team”, which will provide us with operational advice and expertise. We’ll talk about it soon.

In addition to what we will be doing with the Ministry of Productive Recovery, I would like to develop three areas in particular.

I would first like to stress that there is no design without designers. They must be able to practise their profession with complete legal certainty, particularly in social and fiscal terms. I want to work on the issue of their status. This will also contribute to a better recognition of this profession, whether it is exercised as an employee or as an independent.

Independent designers have also alerted me to the difficulties they are currently experiencing in the exercise of their profession, and in particular for their social security system within the artists-authors regime. With Marisol Touraine and Jérôme Cahuzac, we launched a joint mission of general inspections of our ministries to reform the system of artist authors and we insisted on the necessity that the problems of designers find their solution in the reform that will be undertaken by the government.

In the same way, for there to be designers, we also need effective training. We started the transition to the L.M.D. of higher schools of art, applied art and design under the tutelage of the Ministry of Culture and Communication. We are going to accompany them in the new wave of evaluation that makes it possible to confer the degree of master’s degree on the higher diplomas they award. We have also restructured our intervention for the development of research in these schools. All this is essential in the international competition, for the recognition of these schools for what they are, of rank and international level.

We also need to work on access to these colleges. Today there are high-performance training courses in secondary education, consular schools, state schools, others under the supervision of local authorities...

Is the training offer readable, especially from the international? Do the bridges between the different courses exist and can be easily borrowed?

I want to work on this with all the actors concerned and in the first place with the Ministry of National Education. The students in our schools must reflect all the social and cultural diversity and be able to nourish their careers with an international vision. It is a chance for France. It is also a chance for the design that will be done in our country.
In the next few days, I will be meeting at the ministry with all the cultural higher education schools to discuss these issues with their principals.

Finally, the strength of design in France will also depend on the education of the greatest number, from a very young age, to design. This is an essential condition for our fellow citizens of tomorrow to learn to be sensitive actors and responsible for their living environment. On this point too Saint-Etienne is exemplary. The Resource Centre for Arts and Cultural Education «design» offers teacher training. I know that this year, during the Biennale, he is expecting more than 100 trainers who will come here to improve their skills. The centre forges educational tools that are widely distributed. It is also a specialized documentation centre.

But here too, we innovate, we experiment. I know that the pole, for the period that will open at the end of this edition of the Biennale, will work on the innovation of school forms. I also invite him to look at the design of public policies and why not public cultural policies...

It is also for this reason that my visit to Saint-Etienne is fully in line with the Tour de France of arts and cultural education that I have undertaken to promote, reveal, the exemplary projects that are being deployed throughout France in the field of arts and cultural education, this major project that the President of the Republic has put in his priority.

I am looking forward to discovering, at the Biennale itself, the educational design projects, including the Nanocity workshop for children, designed by Matali Crasset. Later I will be at the Boris Vian Cultural Center where Lola Diard is carrying the project a space for all. And I will be at Bergson Primary School tomorrow morning as part of the project «I am helping to renovate my school!».

The design helped to raise the Saint-Etienne economy and placed itself at the heart of the Saint-Etienne culture. Saint-Etienne is a pioneer. By designating you City of Design within the international network of creative cities, UNESCO has recognized the exceptional dynamic at work in your territory. I hope that your know-how will infiltrate everywhere in France. Because design is an essential vector for the creation and vitality of the economy of our country. That’s the creative recovery, I am
deeply convinced.

Thank you.