Biennale International Design Saint-Étienne 2019. ME/ YOU/ NOUS, Designing Common Ground in an age of Diversity. Poster.

Biennale International Design Saint-Étienne 2019

By Magdalena Obmalko

Colour Coded, Faber Futures x Ginkgo Bioworks, 2018. Image Credit: IMMATTERS Studio

We are honoured to be part of the Biennale International Design Saint-Étienne 2019: Systems, not Stuff under the curatorship of Lisa White. The exhibition questions the idea of collaboration in the era of omnipresent individualism. It draws on the role of empathy in the process of design and underlines the importance of addressing real people and their needs.

The Biennale International Design Saint-Étienne occupies a special place on the creative map by promoting innovative and multidisciplinary approaches to design. Structured around exhibitions, talks and workshops, it aims to explore current as well as possible futures and foster creative exchange among its international public. Based in Saint-Étienne, the only French city to be a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities network and since 2010 known as a City of Design, it stimulates collaboration not only between participants but particularly, within other member cities.

This year, the 11th edition of the biennale titled ME/ YOU/ NOUS, Designing Common Ground in an age of Diversity, focuses on the basic question of what is a common understanding of design and its modern form. Is it tangible or intangible? Contemporary design is becoming rather service-oriented than product-based which results in putting the main focus on building unique environments and experiences. Where is the place of people and communities in this new reality? How can design become a facilitator creating new connections, new spaces and new elements?

Alongside a textile piece from Project Coelicolor: The Rise & Fall of a Micropolis, 2017, for the first time, we are showing to the public our new project – Colour Coded, 2018 – a speculative working prototype that sits within the Frontiers framework of our LAB at Faber Futures. Working in collaboration with Michael Napolitano, a design engineer at The Ginkgo Bioworks, Faber Futures has explored emerging DNA-based data storage techniques to encode contextual and biological information as relates to the use-case of the bacteria we work with to dye textiles. This intervention opens up a discussion about the context through which our futures could be envisioned and are made. Only two copies of Colour Coded exist: the other resides in the permanent collection of Harvard Art Museum’s Forbes Pigment Collection in Cambridge, MA (available for research purposes only), so we are thrilled to be able to share the project within this wider context.


Biennale Internationale Design

Saint-Étienne, France

21/03/19 – 22/04/19

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