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PRESS RELEASE 07.11.2014




Design, a word invariably uttered with a hint of snobbery in the voice and a self-important air, means the same in every language. For the past two decades, anything and everything is design. Soundtracks are the work of sound designers, ambient lighting comes courtesy of light designers, even chefs have morphed into food designers.


But what actually lies behind a word that has become something of a global label? An aesthetic approach? A contemporary vision? A progressive ideology? In reality, all three. Design, better than any philosophical treatise, expresses the zeitgeist; records the pulse and beliefs of its time. Derived from Old French, design is both creation and intention. Because it is tied to changing mentalities and advances in technology, design reflects the living conditions of an era. Imagine this is the year 5000, that our world is no more, and an archaeologist from another planet uncovers, in the ruins of a Western megalopolis, objects and furniture from today. Careful examination will lead him to an exact picture of our tastes and habits. Soon he will understand the workings of our political, economic and social mechanisms. Our degree of industrialisation, our scientific progress, our modes of exchange, how we used resources, and the state of our research, in particular into materials. Lastly, he will see how we organised our lives at home, in our offices and towns, how we spent our leisure. He'll even go as far as to imagine our debates, conflicts of interest, wars of influence...


Because design isn't just for boholand. It feeds every sector of daily life. Industry, advertsing, publishing and the media, animation, furniture, decoration and fashion are all prime design territory. From a corporate logo to the typeface on a poster, from the curve of a salad bowl to the cut of a dress or a fusiform car, nothing escapes it. Another common misconception is to reduce the role of design to putting a pattern on a product or interpreting a basic shape. Granted, design is an applied art and belongs to the visual world. However, it also channels services, reveals trends and accelerates communication. Dynamic companies know this. There is still a vast difference between an object by a designer and the soulless product of a marketing plan. Not quite an artist, not quite an engineer, the designer walks a tightrope between art and industry. He gives symbolic added value to the objects he conceives and, in doing so, has them stand out from ordinary production.


French designers have a special place on the international scene. Heirs to a long tradition of decorative arts and excellence in ornamental techniques, open to innovative technology. They take the skills of the past and effortlessly project them into the future. Beneficiaries of a particular brand of savoir-faire which matches elegance and refinement with practicality, they are sought out by the leading international manufacturers in pursuit of the legendary “French touch”. This specificity of French design appeals particularly to the country's luxury industry, but also young, forward-looking businesses. Thanks to their orders and risk-taking, these sectors lend their support, and conviction, to the work of designers. A means of combining cultural creativity with economic growth.


By calling on talented names, manufacturers of tableware in France have poked holes in the rather pompous image which for centuries clung to their country's art de vivre. “Tableaux Tables – table arts and design” is an opportunity to showcase the most outstanding associations between French designers and producers.


Our finest talents, from household names to the young generation, were contacted by our foremost makers of hollowware, flatware and crystal to renew and modernise their ranges. Ten tables, set out as tableaux, propose an original representation of meals, from a high-energy breakfast to an intimate supper or a working lunch, along with other social gatherings such as brunch, a picnic or an eco-friendly buffet. A host of usetul and beautiful objects, imagined by talented designers and produced by daring manufacturers. It's amazing what can be done with plates, dishes, cutlery and glasses!

Elisabeth Couturier


A journalist, art critic and independent curator, Elisabeth Couturier contributes to numerous specialist and general-interest magazines. She is the producer and presenter, on France Culture radio, of a weekly show on the visual arts. She also directs the “Talk About...” Collection of books, published by Flammarion and is the author of the first two titles in the series: “Talk About Contemporary Art”, “Talk About Design” and “Talk About Contemporary Photography”.

Scenographers: Olivier Guillemin and Olivier Védrine - [o,o]


Exhibition is organised in collaboration with Institut Franēais d'Estonie in the frames of the festival “Accord! 2014: French Cultural Autumn in Estonia”.


Further info:

Kai Lobjakas

+372 5648 6977

Jaanika Saarmets

Prantsuse Instituut Eestis Kultuuri- ja audiovisuaalvaldkonna juht

+372 616 1636

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