April 1, 2007
Deconstructions: Dyson Stowaway
The latest incarnation of the British engineer’s eponymous übervacuum comes in a “cunning” little package.
This month Metropolis takes detailed looks at objects ranging in scale from the microscopic to the architectural. Links to the related stories can be found at the bottom of this article.
James Dyson’s original bagless cyclone vacuum debuted in 1983, in Japan, after five years of tinkering and 5,127 prototypes (a number that has since taken on the tinge of company lore), and the line is now the established market leader across the globe, inspiring legions of imitators with their own cyclone technologies and see-through plastic bins. As a result, the company has been forced to innovate at a rapid pace, recently unveiling the handheld Root 6 and, now, the Stowaway, the first Dyson canister vacuum made for the United States. As the name implies, the Stowaway will tuck neatly out of sight in a closet or cupboard, the hose wrapped tightly around its compact plastic shell. But once uncoiled and clipped together, it is a full-size, full-power machine. Using Dyson’s patented Root Cyclone technology, it spins dirt out of the air and will—in the words that the inventor intones, mantralike, in his TV ads—never clog and never lose suction. Here Dyson describes some of the features of the Stowaway, available in select stores this month.
With the original Dyson vacuum, retailers were very worried about having a clear bin. They did market research and said, “Dirt is disgusting; nobody wants to see it.” But as engineers, we liked to see what happened. We felt there was a kind of vicarious enjoyment in seeing the bin filling up with dirt. So we decided to ignore the market research, and it paid off.
When you look at other cylinder vacuums, you’ll see that often the electric wire is taped to the hose and left hanging as it goes down the wand. We didn’t like that, so we glued the wire inside the hose.
The dirt comes in at the top of the bin; all the large rubbish is spun out in the central cylinder. Then the air is divided into the eight smaller Root Cyclones, and the very fine dust is separated out and collected in the bin. Finally the air goes through a washable filter, down into the motor, through a HEPA filter, and out the exhaust vent.
The external screws, you know, we don’t hide them. They’re part of the aesthetic. There’s no styling; there’s nothing decorative at all. Everything is there for a purpose. It’s just a machine, kind of like a motorbike.