Roger Tallon

1929-2011

Designer, planner, researcher, designer of objects… these were some of the words Roger Tallon used to introduce himself. We should not read any kind of hesitation or presumption into them, rather the movement of a mind totally oriented towards the discovery of the right forms deduced from an analysis of the functions peculiar to the projects which Tallon was prompted to work on. Let us mention just a handful of the best known: the Corail train, the TGV highspeed train, the Méteor train and the Montmartre funicular. In all these works, he managed to develop his “total design” concept, in an ongoing struggle against the “design-shortcomings” (designo-déficience) of contemporary in dustry and society.

In the 1950s, Roger Tallon rubbed shoulders with the artistic avant-garde. He worked, for example, with Yves Klein, in particular for his air architecture projects. Friendships and joint projects of this kind gave Tallon a taste for utopia, challenges, and that determined desire to conceive an environment in its entirety. Taking the TGV was not just travelling from Paris to Lyon. It involved, above all, a two-hour experiment to do with dynamics, ranging from the train’s design to its form, by appropriating an open structure enabling everyone to become a designer themselves.

Dynamism was thus the predominant feature of design as imagined by Roger Tallon. Involved, first and foremost, was giving a meaning to journeys (his major projects were vehicles, with design as the vector), but, more than this, shifting boundaries, not imposing any limits on things, and seeing them in all their aspects so as to get beyond apparent contradictions. In this quest for something diffuse, Tallon succeeded in dissolving the object and its functions by creating, for example, the “module” concept. This was a revolution which replaced the brutal, male idea of the finite with the values of feminity, the puzzle, and the collective. Parts were combined in sets which were capable of being transformed, to produce a design for living.

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