Member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network since 2010



Ten Things to Know About Saint-Étienne


1 - A Competitive Economic Hub

In a pioneer region driven by both art and industry, the city of Saint-Etienne has been evolving. With its 400,000 inhabitants, the metropolitan area of Saint-Etienne is the 2nd biggest urban center of the big metropolitan hub gathering Lyon, Saint-Etienne, Bourgoin- Jallieu and Vienne (2 million inhabitants). The main economic activities are now oriented towards services and centers of excellence (optical and mechanical engineering, medical technology, higher education and design). Innovation provides the leverage for the region to host more than 50 European and world leaders and more than 20,000 SMEs.

2 - Cité du design

The Cité du design, created in 2005 by the Town and the Metropolitan District of Saint- Etienne, has emerged from the tremendous development of design education and the success of the Saint-Etienne International Design Biennial. It is a platform of observation, creation, teaching, training and research through design. The Cité du design and the Higher School of Art and Design of Saint-Etienne are now grouped together in the same structure with a common objective: to develop research and innovation through creation. Its activity is based on a strong and federating theme: design, social change, and economic dynamics. Inaugurated in October 2009 and located on the highly symbolical site of the former National Arms Manufacture, this vanguard space has been created by Fin Geipel and Giulia Andi (Lin agency).

3 - Design and Higher Education

The Saint-Etienne Higher School of Art and Design (founded in 1803), straightly bound to the industrial development of the city since its founding, played a crucial part in the contemporary adventure of design in Saint-Etienne, generating interest on a national scale with the setting up of the first graduate course for “Design and Research” in France in 1989, followed in 1991, by the founding of the Azimuts review. Its purpose is to train artists, designers, graphic artists, authors and creators, and, more generally speaking, to produce competent professionals in all sectors that rely on imagination, creativity and inventiveness. 
The Higher Education Design Consortium was initiated in 2007 by the Cité du design, federating higher education institutions of the region working in the fields of design teaching and research.

4 - Design and Research

The Cité du design organizes and structures a design research situated at the confluence of creation, pure sciences and human sciences, technique, economy and industry. A specific methodology has been set up by the Cité du design, enabling researchers to create new concepts coming from users’ observations and using design as a codiagnostic, analysis and conception tool. Some of the covered topics: energy, habitat, flux, practices and technology, service design, etc.

5 - Saint-Etienne International Design Biennial

The creation of the International Biennial of Design of Saint-Etienne by the Higher School of Art and Design in 1998 and its development by the Cité du design since 2006 have marked a decisive turning point in the transformation of the town’s identity, and its international prestige. This event, which brings together creators, companies, schools, editors, journalists, and is spread in various institutions of the territory, offers exhibitions, conferences, time for reflection, work and meeting of the design community with all kinds of audiences. 

6 - Design in the City

An active design policy with the regional pilot program Grands Projets Rhône-Alpes “Design in the City”, which gathers the Metropolitan District of Saint-Etienne, the City of Saint-Etienne, the Cité du design and the Rhône-Alpes Region to set up the Saint- Etienne area as a showcase and a laboratory of design. The innovative concept of “Design in the city” aims at spreading the design methodology to all the constituent parts of the territory in the public policies.

7 - A Land of Creators

The history of Saint-Etienne is marked by a long series of patents and inventions.
Designers and creators of the territory reply with their specific skills to the companies orders and participate in the projects of urban renewal and living environment redevelopment launched by the local authorities. The “Commerce Design Saint-Etienne” competition, the “Hotel D” program and the “Design & Shop” exhibitions participate in the stimulation of shopping and commercial attractiveness of the city by design.

8 - The Urban Effervescence

Creativity, inventiveness, ingeniousness are the characteristics of Saint-Etienne’s great urban project.
7 great urban planners for 7 symbolic projects: Alexandre Chemetoff et Associés, Gérard Pénot, Jean-Michel Savignat, David Mangin et Bernard Reichen, Obras Studio, Bernard Paris et Associés, Michel Corajoud associated to à Gauthier et Conquet architects.
Famous architects involved in major architectural realizations: the Cité du Design: Finn Geipel & Giulia Andi, Zénith concert hall: Norman Foster, la Maison de l’Emploi (employment services center): Rudy Ricciotti, cité administrative (Saint-Etienne Metropolitan District headquarters): Manuelle Gautrand, Green Park Métrotech and Casino group headquarters: Architecture Studio, Châteaucreux buildings: Fumihiko Maki.

9 - A Creative District

The Manufacture Plaine-Achille area has the ambition of becoming the district of creative professionals, grey matter and innovation, a place for permanent networking of technologies, arts, culture and leisure with 3 main fields of higher education: optics, design and media. The Manufacture Plaine-Achille campus is the experimentation place for the European Living Lab “Design Creative City Living Lab” (DCC-LL) led by the Cité du design.

10 - A Prolific Cultural Life

Saint-Etienne gives culture a predominant place. All year long, 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, Museum of Urban
Transport, Le Corbusier Heritage in Firminy, Opera House, Conservatoire of music and dance, Saint-Etienne Comedie Playhouse – National Drama Centre, Astronef, The
Rotonde, Centre of scientific, technical and industrial culture…