James Dyson was not happy with his vacuum cleaner. It wasn’t powerful enough, and he determined that the problem was the bag. The bag’s purpose was to catch the dirt, but as it filled up, it quickly compromised the suction. So he set out to create a bagless vacuum cleaner, and through much trial and error (5,271 prototypes according to some sources), James Dyson came up with something he called “dual cyclone” technology. His design used centrifugal force instead of a bag to separate dirt from the air, and the result was much more powerful than anything else on the market.
Today you’d be hard pressed to find a commercially available vacuum that requires a bag. Nearly all vacuums are bagless now. This fact alone is sufficient to call Dyson a game changer, but going bagless wasn’t enough for the iconic inventor. He did two other things to revolutionize this humble household appliance.
He let you see the dirt
This is the kind of counter-intuitive curveball that only a genius comes up with. Who wants to see dirt? Perhaps it was hubris on Dyson’s part. Showing off. Or perhaps he conceived it initially for sales demonstrations, as a sensible way to show how much more dirt the Dyson sucked up than the competition (he was not only the company’s engineer, but its pitchman). As it turned out though, everyone wanted to see the dirt. People delighted in knowing that this filth they could see with their own eyes was safely trapped in the cannister and no longer soiling their shag carpet.
He made it look like a toy
The Dyson vacuum is nearly all plastic, which isn’t so unusual now, but it was in 2002 when his DC07 first entered the US market. Higher end vacuums at the time were mostly sturdy and serious, and the all-plastic Dyson DC07 cost more than most of them. Instead of trying to hide his product’s “plastic-ness” however, James Dyson embraced it. He made his vacuum cleaners look like toys, using bright colors and whimsical shapes. As a result, you don’t feel like the janitor of your house when you vacuum with a Dyson.
It’s actually sort of fun.