Richard Giles Talbot Kelly (1929-2006) was an English designer, educator, and writer.


Richard Giles Talbot Kelly was an English designer, educator, and writer. Giles was born in 1929 in the middle of England within a hundred metres of the site of the first ever game of Rugby football. His father, paternal and maternal grandfathers were well regarded artists. He was educated in a medieval castle on the Scottish Borders, Rugby School, at the Architectural Association and Saint Martin’s School of Art & Design. He served as an infantry platoon commander at the end in the Korean War.

During his diverse 30+ year design career, in England, Ireland and Canada, Talbot Kelly designed signage, identities and print, textiles, furniture, exhibitions, advertising, interiors, as well as running design departments and doing research into the re-use of workshop waste, dye technologies, and computing for designers.

Apprenticed after military service to the London based exhibition designer James Gardner, he worked in advertising in London before moving to Dublin, where after further advertising experience, he co-founded the first ever design consultancy in Ireland, Group Three, along with Jarlath Hayes and Bob Poole. At the same time, he taught and co-founded Ireland’s first professional design society, Institute of Creative Advertising and Design (ICAD). He worked as a consultant to the Irish government before returning to England as Head of Design at what is now Coventry University.

In 1969, he moved his family of seven children to Toronto to work on the (then) new Ontario CAATs. In the early 70s, he cofounded a large format graphic design company with Barry Briscoe, called SuperGrafitti. He was the third director of the School of Design at Sheridan. In the mid 70s he started his own design consultancy, TKA. In 1975 he was retained by the Federal Office of Design to attempt to combine the several design societies into a single, more coherent and viable unit, and at the same time revitalize the GDC under its then president, Carl Brett. In the mid 70s he founded the Carpet Data Centre, in Toronto, where he designed the patterns for and pioneered their dye printing onto synthetic carpets.

In 1977 he returned to England, this time as Head of Design at Middlesborough Polytechnic University. Here he developed major investigations into computing for designers, and initiated and front-ran an international conference on the subject in 1982.

He returned to Canada in 1982, reopening a design practice with two sons, and becoming a Canadian citizen. Reconstituted TKA centred around an innovative 3d modelling and drawing software and hardware system (CAPITOL) that he developed with Dr Graham Webster at Middlesborough Polytechnic University. This technology was central to the varied exhibition and graphic design work TKA was involved in for the next dozen years. Talbot Kelly also taught at York University during these years.

Talbot Kelly largely retired from design in the mid 90s to focus on his first passion, writing poetry. His first volume of poetry is to be posthumously published in 2020.

Talbot Kelly designed advertising for VW, Pan American, Clark’s Shoes, Carlsberg, and Rowntrees; interiors for Powers Whiskey, Irish Sugar Company (ISC), Irish embassies, Irish Management Institute, IBM, 3M, Waterford Glass, Sheridan and Conestoga CAATs, Osgoode Hall, and the 2000-seat theatre for the Irish Transport and Workers Union in Dublin; textiles for hotels, Place Bonaventure, Crown Life, and ISC; furniture for ITGWU, IBM, IMI, ISC, Harrington Group, and retail stores; signage for Conestoga CAAT and retail stores; exhibitions for Battersea Pleasure Gardens, Aer Lingus, and Powers Whiskey; identities and print for Merit Investment Corporation, Shell, York University, IMI, Ian Percy, and Harrington Group; packaging for Beamish Stout, Imperial Tobacco, and Unilever; and research into re-use of workshop waste, dye technologies, and computing for designers.

As he said, “I have devoted my life trying to catch up with my visions, mostly by my own proactivity”.

Giles passed away on September 1, 2006.



Nelson, Seattle, Vancouver




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