90% of my friends here in Grenoble study Architecture, but this week I found out how advantageous that can be when they managed to get me free entry and transport with them to the St Etienne Design Biennale.

The theme of the Biennale was ‘Empathy & other people’s experiences’ which I hope was eye-opening for some visitors. Design is often only thought of as the creation of ‘beautiful objects’ but, as these exhibits demonstrated, good design also incorporates sustainability, practicality and often intelligence and wit. I admit that the majority of my photos are of the more aesthetically pleasing side of the Biennale but that’s not to say I didn’t find favourites in the more thoughtful side of the exhibitions; such as the idea of developing interactive, communal spaces that encourage locality amongst residents, and a complete upheaval in the design of tools that help the elderly or the disabled, to make them look less medical and cold. Perhaps that all sounds very ‘peace on earth’ but hey why shouldn’t that be one of the goals of design?

Pretty sure I didn’t get to see even half of the things on display but I wouldn’t know because I failed to acquire a map, however, I was automatically enticed into the section I explored all day by this happy little guy so who can blame me?

IMG_4662IMG_4632IMG_4633Chess set made from one tree branch.

IMG_4666Bike also incorporating tree branches (bit of a wood fan over here so I loved these!)

IMG_4637A bag combining two IKEA icons – the sheepskin rug and their large blue & yellow carrier bag.

IMG_4639Strange jellies linked wirelessly to a sound generator program so that when touched, the jellies would ‘make a sound’. Very bizarre!

IMG_4640IMG_4643A special shout out goes to these brainwave cat ears. They’re called Necomimi and you can actually buy them quite cheaply (MUST. RESIST.), and basically they ‘read your brainwaves’ and reflect how you’re feeling. Definitely cuter in theory but what a hilarious idea.

IMG_4646IMG_4647IMG_4672There was a Yamaha stall where you could make your own maraca. So this isn’t just any maraca, it’s a Yamaha maraca…

IMG_4651Prototype for a new acoustic travel guitar by Yamaha that will fit in your bag.

IMG_4654I got to play with a Yamaha Tenori-On! FINALLY.

IMG_4656IMG_4657IMG_4660IMG_4661IMG_46643D printed heels.

IMG_4667Knitted headphones, (that don’t tangle!)

IMG_46693D printed heels is one thing but these models demonstrate the concept of 3D printed food. Apparently one day in the not so distant future we will be able to order whatever we want on an airplane or from vending machines because of 3D printing. Unlike a lot of people I’m not opposed to current airplane food but this is pretty mind-blowing (I’m completely behind the times I know. Damn young whippersnappers with their fancy food…) Oh and there was a slightly weirder 3D printing concept too – make a miniature version of your Facebook friends, by printing them in 3D from a collection of their facebook photos….TOO FAR WORLD, TOO FAR.

Speaking of too far, unfortunately it wasn’t all fun and games in the otherwise hilarious and out of this world ‘future’ section of the Biennale. There was a black mirror-eque short film about augmented reality called Sight. Very thought provoking but probably ripping off Charlie Brooker a little bit too much for my liking:

And just to end on a high…


Future me is gonna look wayyy cool on road-skis and in my BMW sponsored white parachute airbag jumpsuit.



    1. Yeah I couldn’t believe the bag when I saw it aha. Was hoping they’d sell it in the biennale gift shop or something but they weren’t :(

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