Few British designers can claim to have had as much impact on the cleanliness of our homes as Sir James Dyson – but the man’s achievements go far beyond hard-sucking, bagless vacuum cleaners.
Join us as we take a stroll through 40 years of Dyson’s most significant, most innovative products.
Rotork Sea Truck (early 1970s)
While still a student at the Royal College of Art, James Dyson spent part of his time working for British manufacturing company Rotork. Aged just 23 he designed the Sea Truck, a fibreglass boat able to carry a load of up to three tons. It was used by the military as a landing craft, as well as by the oil and construction industries.
After seeing a wheelbarrow get stuck in muddy ground, Dyson was inspired to create this: with its wide plastic ball wheel and plastic hopper, the Ballbarrow was far stabler and lighter than a traditional wheelbarrow – a boon on uneven or wet ground. Something of a design classic - and the ball would play a (quite literally) pivotal role in many of his later designs.
Kleeneze Rotork Cyclon 1000A (1983)
Dyson had been prototyping vacuum cleaner designs since 1978, and five years later his former employers at Rotork funded the first production model: the Cyclon 1000A. Manufactured by Zanussi and distributed by Kleeneze, the Cyclon was extremely expensive for its time (the equivalent of well over £1,000 today) and only 500 were made.
The design was also manufactured under license by Japanese company Apex and sold as the “G-Force”. It was a success in the Far East, and the revenue enabled Dyson to set up his own company.
Dyson DA001/DC01 (1993)
A decade after the Cyclon came the DA001 (quickly renamed the DC01), the first vacuum cleaner sold under the Dyson name and, to put it mildly, a real game-changer (despite being a very similar design to the Cyclon). Dyson’s patented Dual Cyclone technology gave the DC01 huge suction power compared to its rivals (90 airwatts, to be precise) and dispensed with the bag for the first time – although this brilliant tech came at a premium price. Given the money James Dyson had invested, and the 5,127 prototypes he created before finalising the design, the price was justified.
Dyson DC02 (1995)
Dyson’s first cylinder cleaner, the DC02 had a shape that allowed it to sit easily on stairs. It featured the same Dual Cyclone motor as the DC01.
Dyson CR01 Contrarotator (2000)
The CR01 was another groundbreaking product: the first washing machine to feature two counter-rotating drums. This setup meant it replicated the action of hand-washing clothes, keeping the laundry constantly manipulated and flexed and allowing detergent to penetrate the fabric more effectively. Despite this, Dyson’s washing machine business proved unprofitable and a few years later, the company stopped building them.
Dyson DC07 (2001)
The first of Dyson’s vacuum cleaners to come with Root Cyclone technology, which improved the Dual Cyclone engine by adding more cyclone chambers. This gave it 280 airwatts of suction power. The DC07 was the first model to be sold in the US.