Hardly known from the general public, Roger Tallon, born in 1929 March 6, is not only the TGV designer but also the French designer who quickly made an international career. He is the one who will step by step establish the profession of industrial designer as a full profession.
After engineering studies (1944-1950), he coordinates the technical and commercial communication for Caterpillar-France company, then he works as a consultant for the European subsidiaries of Dupont de Nemours.
In 1953, he joins Technès, an office of technical and aesthetic studies, founded in 1949 by Jacques Viénot (pioneer of the industrial aesthetics) and Jean Partenay. Being an enlightened collaborator, he is rapidly promoted as the technical and artistic manager of the agency.
In 1959, on Jacques Viénot’s death, he becomes the executive manager.
In 1957, he works as a teacher at the “Ecole des Arts Appliqués de Paris” and puts in place the first design class in France.
In 1963, he creates the design department of the “Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs” à Paris (ENSAD). As a curious, audacious man aware of the signs of his time, Roger Tallon creates with his team more than 500 products, from 1953 to 1973.
Food processors for Peugeot, the 8 mm Veronic camera without visible lens for Sem, the 16 and 14 Gallic towers for La Mondiale, a slide projector for Kodak, airport tractors, fork-lift truck for Fenwick, the graphic image of Fenwick-Aviation…
As a consultant for General Motors-USA during 7 years, Tallon draws fridges and washing machines for the Frigidaire filial and creates the design department of the American company. In 1966, the portable TV Téléavia P111 is distributed… This cube screen with round lines introduces a new formal language, a new television architecture: it is a big commercial success, in FNAC stores (born in 1964), among others, which do not hesitate to put the product forward. It appears in the press media, the designer name is mentioned, Télévia is to become a cult object.
The success drives him to get new type of orders. He accepts to work for the art of the tableware: the 3T collection (T for Tableware) is released in 1967: cutlery, crockery, glasses, packaged in twos. The professional trade unions of the ironmasters would like to promote the cast iron in other sectors than the radiator and the machine tool. Tallon has been their councillor for a few times and he introduces his first cast-iron furniture at the Batimat fair in 1964. There he shows for the first time the spiral staircase and the Module 400 collection, later published by the Lacloche gallery.
Tallon mixes with a lot of artists and the collaboration between them comes naturally: material experimentations, pictures handling, exhibition display, the designer participates to the research of Yves Klein, César, Arman….
In 1972, Catherine Millet founds Art Press and gives Tallon the responsibility of the graphic system which is nearly the same at today. For the German industrial Erco he makes series of spotlights fitted with big reflectors, low-voltage halogen lamps. These products will be copied afterwards. Tallon creates for all the industrial sectors: ski shoes for Salomon, toothbrushes for Fluocaril, plastic oilcans for Elf….
In 1973, he creates the agency “Design Programmes”. At this time the Lip company has some difficulties and its watchmaker labourers fight for the safety of their know-how and their enterprise. Tallon supports them and offers one of the most beautiful and innovating object of the century: the Mach 2000 watches and chronometers collection.
First big realisation in the transport sector: while the underground of Mexico has run since 1969, at the same time, the models of the “TGV 001” (for Alsthom) are finalised. The “trains Corail” are put into circulation in 1974. It is the first step towards modernity for the SNCF (railroad French company). Changes can be noted: ergonomic design, comfort, colour, wiring for sound, lighting… However, Tallon is a “project designer” above all, found of railroad transport, and he wants to go further. He transforms the brand image of the SNCF and develops the visual identity, the signal system, the cartography, the adaptation of international pictograms to the brand image of the company. As well, along with the dressmaker Michel Schreiber, he draws the new uniforms of the rail ticket inspectors.
In 1984, Tallon creates ADSA+partners in collaboration with Michel Schreiber and the designer Pierre Paulin. In 1985, the Ministry of Culture grants him the « Grand Prix national de la création industrielle » (French First Prize of industrial creation) and in 1992, he receives the insignia of « Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres » (Commander of Arts and Literature) from the President of the SNCF.
The TGV Atlantique project starts in 1986 and the Eurostar in 1987. A new railway designed by Tallon climbs the Montmartre hill in 1991.
The 21st century is here now and we all have in our everyday life something created by Roger Tallon.
Source : « Lip, des heures à conter » – Libris – Marie-Pia Auschitzky Coustans.