AGI Open Paris

Monday – Thursday
18 – 22.09.2017

24 25



Sep 18, Mon    
Day 1

Venue: Odéon–Théâtre de l’Europe
Presentations / Talks
Topic: Graphic Design and Performing Arts (Arts du spectacle)


Sep 19, Tue    
Day 2

Venue: EnsAD
(École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs)
(for students and AGI members only)
Encounters with students in small group sessions.
AGI members will be able to exchange with the coming generation of designers.
Presentations / Talks
Topic: Graphic Design and Transfer of knowledge


Sep 20, Wed
Day 3

Venue: Maison de la Radio (headquarters of Radio France, the French public broadcasting house), Studio 104
Presentations / Talks
Topic: Graphic Design and Space (architecture, urban planning, flow) 


Sep 21, Thu
Day 4

Venue: Palais de Tokyo –Yoyo
Presentations / Talks
Topic: Graphic Design and intercultural exchange (society and art).

Yesterday Today Tomorrow

Sixty-five years since our alliance first came together in the French capital, the annual congress of September 2017 brings AGI back to Paris again. In 1952, having gone through two successive world wars within less than half a century, Europe celebrated its liberation with a mixture of optimism and solidarity. The need to rebuild and restructure was perceived as a collective responsibility in which politicians, companies, scientists, artists and civilians had to join forces. What lay ahead was a gigantic task that required both fresh ideas and new coalitions in which nationalist sentiments – the root of many twentieth century evils – no longer had a place.

Like many other organisations, AGI sprung from this forward thinking, publicly engaged and fundamentally internationalist attitude. Graphic designers looked beyond the borders of their own cultures to redefine what design could offer to the world community. The work that a growing number of AGI members have created over the years, bears witness to the relevance of this ‘borderless’ ambition. But, sixty-five years onwards, the sense of urgency has changed, much like the world in which graphic designers operate has gone through huge political, economic and technical transformations.

Open to the world

For the organisers of AGI’s 2017 Annual Congress the theme of borders developed into the key notion, with which they want to address the changing social context of the designer. Not just because global migration has reinforced nationalist movements in their call for safe borders, but also with respect to borders within our profession. To underline the importance of an open forum, the 2017 edition doesn’t feature an AGI Open next to the restricted members’ meetings: apart from the introduction of the new members on Monday and the General Assembly on Friday the entire event will be open to the world.

The programme of the Paris Annual Congress reflects the ambition to cross borders. For the first time in the history of the event the congress adopts a nomadic schedule. Literally moving from one significant place in the city to the next, each day will stage an encounter between graphic design and other artistic disciplines. The Paris meetings will hopefully feature a productive debate between generations and between different creative professions in a range of spectacular venues. In the Odéon-Théâtre de l’Europe, the hub of public debate at the time of the French Revolution and a place of militant protest ever since, new AGI members will no doubt seduce us to think beyond our current practices. The Palais de Tokyo will function as the animated backdrop for talks about the value of intercultural exchange. Every venue confronts AGI members with the work and ideas developed by professionals from within but also across the borders of our field.

Across borders

France offers a home base to a wide variety of designers who – all in their own ways – find a middle ground between the strong ‘beaux arts’ tradition of design in the country, and more rationalist approaches like the Anglo-Saxon or the Swiss schools. Highly specialised niches of the profession are very much alive in the broad spectrum of professional practices. The country boasts an abundance of cultural institutions and there are many types of clients who are open to the ideas of artists and designers. The fact that out of a group of twenty eight French AGI members, half of them are born outside of France is an indication of the international cultural position of the country, and particularly Paris. This international atmosphere will inspire the visitors to the Annual Congress. Hosts, speakers, guests, venues and the surrounding programme all reflect the search for opportunities for graphic design outside its confined terrain. When AGI staged the exhibition Art & Publicité dans le Monde in 1955 the connection between design and the public cause was still undebated and even in 2001, when Paris hosted the 50th birthday of AGI, designers like Pierre Bernard upheld the notion of graphic design as a major force in the public domain.

Mainly through the way marketing thinking has penetrated public services and the cultural sector, the role of creative professionals seems to have become more restricted since then. The organisers of the 2017 congress agreed that the power of an international alliance like AGI should be used to propel the profession into a better, less dependent position. The goal is to become more visible, more influential, and – like the founding members intended – more dedicated to the public cause. Paris 2017 is not meant to stop when the participants leave at the end of the week. The organisers wish to use this year’s annual congress to expose AGI to the outside world, and thus contribute to a discussion that has to continue in the coming years.

Written by Gert Staal
in collaboration with the AGI Congress 2017 team

The programme

‘Borders’ functions as the core theme of the Paris meetings. Every day presents a specific sub theme, closely linked to the venue and to the communities of artists, scientists, authors, philosophers, theatre directors and architects that gather around these places. The attempts to push the thinking about graphic design into new domains are surely going to benefit from their views and from the discussions that will unfold. Because each venue brings different partners and specific subjects, the 6-day programme offers a broad range of opportunities for AGI members to meet with old friends and new soul mates.

Next to a general publication about the event, separate publications will be made for each day, outlining the backgrounds of the themes, places and people involved. Every booklet has its own team of editors and designers.


Monday 18 September 2017
Venue: Odéon–Théâtre de l’Europe
Graphic Design and Performing Arts (Arts du spectacle) in the main theatre hall. With the participation of the theatre’s director Stéphane Braunschweig.

Tuesday 19 September 2017
Morning and afternoon:
Venue: ENSAD (École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs)
Encounters with students in small group sessions. AGI members can exchange ideas on education and the role of graphic design with the coming generation of designers.
Meeting around the transfer of knowledge through books, magazines, infographics and other formats, including digital media. How can we understand the future role of these media? Can we find ways to mutate existing formats into new ones, by the use of technology but also through visual imagination?

Wednesday 20 September 2017
Venue: Maison de la Radio
Morning and afternoon:
In what ways can graphic designers and architects/urban planners enhance their collaborations, especially around the development of plans for complicated urban environments? How can architects benefit from graphic design expertise in visualising complex data?

Thursday 21 September 2017
Venue: Palais de Tokyo
Morning and afternoon:
As a laboratory for the meeting of contemporary art and society, Palais de Tokyo is famous for its ground-breaking exhibitions and events. Thursday’s programme will revolve around the communication between cultures. In the broadest sense it will look at the connections between design and its surroundings: politics, society and art. Jean de Loisy, curator and president of Palais de Tokyo will be among the speakers.

During the day documentary films on graphic designers will be screened in several of the exhibition spaces.

Back to top