On October 20, 2011, the world lost one of its greatest industrial designers. Roger Tallon studied to be an engineer, and for many years worked at famed French and American companies, including DuPont and General Electric, where he designed refrigerators and washing machines.
But he soon found that his gift was not just for inner machinations of appliances, but for creating designs that broke with convention.
In 1973, Tallon created his own agency, Design Programmes, where his archetypical aesthetic took root. Creations included watches with chronometers, interior cabins for Air France, industrial robots for Peugeot, forklifts and a slide projector for Kodak.
His career hit the right track when he began designing transport. He took on the Mexico City Metro, followed by the Corail train for Alstom and the SNCF. Which led to his biggest effort yet: designing the TGV.
Not satisfied with simply creating the form and function, Tallon took design down to the smallest details: colors, lighting, route maps – even staff uniforms. In essence, everything was uniform – to his specifications.
From here, he went way up, conquering the hill of Montmartre in 1991. Tallon redesigned the funicular – the first such enhancement since 1935 – which carries passengers from the base of the butte to the summit near the Sacre-Coeur basilica in under two minutes.
In 1992, he received the Insignia of Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres from the President of the SNCF, for his seminal work on transforming high-speed train travel in France and throughout Europe.
Whether standing in the French countryside or in a big-city station, the TGV is a sight to behold. But blink and you may miss it. Which would be a shame. It’s a thing of high-speed beauty.
From all of us at Rail Europe, thank you Roger Tallon for your moveable art.