You may not have heard of Roger Tallon, but if you’ve spent any time traveling in France, you’ll have definitely encountered his work.
Tallon was a prolific designer who started his career in the military before being hired by Jacques Vienot at Technes design office. Over 20 years Tallon went on to design over 400 products, including the Taon motorcycle, the Veronic camera, the portable P111 television and refrigerators for Frigidaire.
By 1957 he was a design teacher at the first academic design programme in France and in 1963 he was leading the design department at ENSAD (Ecole Nationale Superieure des Arts Decoratifs).
The show features lots of his early work: homeware, electronics, motorcycles, furniture, pharmaceutical packaging and more. It’s a real mix of stuff and every item is perfectly framed. The exhibition gives the large pieces enough room to breathe by featuring them alongside vitrines full of the small pieces. It’s a really clever layout over multiple levels, interspersed with quotes from Tallon and photographs of him at work.
But the work given most attention and perhaps the work for which Tallon is most renowned is that which he did in the latter part of his career, working with the French national railway, the SNCF. He was the designer of the double-decker TGV, the first Eurostar trains, the Montmartre funicular (the cable car up to the Sacre Coeur) and the RER map.
Having travelled countless times between London and Paris, and having enjoyed the comfort of a double-decker TGV train, I can honestly say I am incredibly grateful for Tallon’s designs, despite never even knowing his name until recently.
The Musee des Arts Decoratifs has received a huge donation of his work, including the model trains he built, complete with miniature passengers and staff inside. One fascinating piece is a bespoke Louis Vuitton suitcase, created for the purpose of carrying the original Eurostar train models to the presentation at which they were first unveiled.
This is a beautifully designed show that was quiet when I visited on its opening day this week. I’d highly recommend it, especially as the 11€ ticket includes the Barbie exhibition (until 18 September 2016) and the museum’s permanent collections.
Roger Tallon, Le design en mouvement, is open until 8 January 2016.
For full details, please visit the official site.