Open Wed-Sun 11.00-18.00 / 17 Lai Street Tallinn, 10133 Estonia


PRESS RELEASE 23.10.2015


20 French Design Icons



The aim of the exhibition “20 French Design Icons” is to chart French design of the past 80 years by highlighting the most notable design artefacts that have influenced many generations of designers.
“20 French Design Icons” presents the true icons of French design and shows the designers’ ability to shatter and reshape dogmas, to adapt to their time or envision future trends without forgetting the core values of design, such as usability, attractiveness and novelty.


Here French design is approached through icons, through cult items. The exhibition sets out to question the position of the external characteristics of objects in the design world, where these are more significant than ever, but also in western societies in general. What makes an object an icon? Is it its history, commercial success, reputation or being publicly praised and embraced by the people? Most likely, it is a combination of all of these elements. In addition, the object’s ability to leave a symbolic and visual mark in its time, leaving its value of use in the background for a second. “We do not ask if the object is useful and good, but look for its ability to reflect the surrounding world and its era and the position of objects in this world,” say design critics Claire Fayolle and Chloé Braunstein. It is possible that Philippe Starck’s lemon squeezer Juicy Salif, also displayed at the exhibition, is simultaneously a sculpture and an everyday object. Alessi, the company that produces the lemon squeezer, launched a gold limited edition in 2000 and actually recommends keeping it on a shelf, rather than using it daily.


The exhibition features 20 objects that in one way or another have influenced French quotidian culture and the understanding of design but have also received international recognition and thus shaped the way French design is perceived.


“20 French Design Icons” invites visitors to explore the French designscape and the best it has to offer, including everyday objects and designers’ favourites like chairs and elements of interior design as well as vehicles. The exhibition introduces key objects of French design from the 1920s to the beginning of the new century.


Some of the exhibited objects have attained a mythical status, as Roland Barthes would say, and have become a permanent fixture in the collective memory of the French. These objects are extremely familiar to French people and bring them joy of recognition wherever they may encounter them. Let’s hope that this exhibition gives you the chance to discover something new and allows you to gain a better understanding of why these objects are so significant for the French people.


The exhibition is curated by Cédric Morisset and Hélene Convert.


Supporters: Ligne Roset Tallinn (Daydream OÜ), Veho Eesti AS, Prike AS, Intera AS.


The exhibition is organized in cooperation with French Institute in Estonia’s culture festival
Accord 2015.
The general sponsor of the festival Accord 2015 is Saint Gobain Estonia SE.

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