Inventions that swept the world

25th April 1997 at 01:00
Doing a Dyson

By Tony Muranka and Nick Rootes

Dyson Appliances Pounds 35

4 Prebend Street, London N1 8BP Tel: 0171 359 4990

Apparently the average home accumulates over a year sufficient dust to fill a bath. Removing this dust presents a challenge and most homes have some sort of electro-mechanical contrivance to undertake the task. Most commonly, the dust is collected in disposable bags, that is, until James Dyson looked at the problem. Careful research, dogged determination and not a little flair transformed the design and appearance of the vacuum cleaner.

After 23 months, his invention became Britain's best-selling cleaner. "Doing a Dyson" has now entered manufacturing terminology to mean designing, engineering, manufacturing and marketing your own invention. This fascinating story is described in Doing a Dyson, published in a limited edition of 10,000 copies. This superb book should find a place in any design and technology department.

The book, itself an interesting product with clear plastic covers and plastic bindings, describes how the bagless cleaner was developed and marketed. The text is illustrated profusely and littered with quotations, many from James Dyson, which provide an insight into the man and how he works.

"Manufacturers shouldn't think of design as a bolt-on thing. It's the total product that's important - how it's used, how it's made, how reliable it is. That should shine out. Designers should be building, testing and using the product, not just making it look pretty."

The book includes some caustic opinions from experts in the field. A Scandinavian manufacturer was not interested in Dyson's bagless cleaner because they made too much money selling replacement bags to their existing customers. This did not stop them copying one of Dyson's other ideas, the integral telescopic hose.

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