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James Dyson

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Sir James Dyson Biography - ArtLyst

Sir James Dyson (born Cromer, Norfolk, England,1947)Dyson is an English industrial designer/inventor best known for his futuristic turbo vacuum cleaner. From 1965 to 1966 he attended Byam Shaw School of drawing and painting, Kensington, London. 1966 to 1970 Royal College of Art for four years, where he studies furniture design, then interior design.

He married a fellow art student, Deirdre Hindmarsh, and eventually settled into a job with Rotork Marine in 1970, Dyson designed and manufactured a high-speed landing craft called the Sea Truck. One version of the flat-bottomed vessel was used by Egyptian troops to get across the Suez Canal during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

In 1974, Dyson struck out on his own, forming a firm with his sister and her husband to make the Ballbarrow. This was the first significant update of the wheelbarrow since the medieval era, Dyson's innovation was to use a plastic ball instead of a wheel for easier maneuverability.

Like nearly all of Dyson's inventions, the idea for the Ballbarrow had been spurred by personal frustration, when several years earlier his wheelbarrow kept getting stuck in the mud when he was working in the garden.

Later that decade, in 1978, he was appalled by the poor performance of his somewhat pricey new vacuum cleaner. Realizing that the "bag" system and the motor that created the suction force had some inherent flaws, he went to work on a new version. It would take him four years, and numerous legal battles. Adding to his troubles, he was ousted from the Ballbarrow company by his partners after management disagreements.

In 1979, the determined inventor established Dyson Research Ltd. with the help of one backer. His buyout funds from Ballbarrow,and a second mortgage on his home helped fund building prototypes,of a workable vacuum cleaner, which had no bag and relied on centrifugal force to separate the dirt from air. He shopped it around to Black & Decker, Electrolux, and other major vacuum-cleaner manufacturers, and they were all profoundly uninterested. For the companies, the sale of replacement vacuum-cleaner bags was a profitable sideline, and few thought that consumers actually wanted to see the dirt that came off the carpets, as the see-through Dyson chamber revealed.

Dyson did manage to begin making and selling what was called the "G-Force" vacuum cleaner in Japan in 1986, and it emerged as a cult favorite, despite its rather high price tag. But then he was forced to begin suing other companies for patent infringement, and the cases dragged on for years and nearly bankrupted him.

Finally, in the early 1990s he was able to build a factory in the Wiltshire area of England. After obtaining a business loan from a local bank; several other financial institutions had turned him down, allegedly the bank manager's wife had tried his vacuum cleaner and was thrilled with it. The Dyson DC01 vacuum cleaner went on the market in Britain in 1993, and by early 1995 was the best-selling vacuum cleaner in the country. It had so many fans that it eventually entered the permanent collections of the Design Museum of London, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Design Museum of Zurich, and Paris's Centre Georges Pompidou, and has also collected a long list of industrial-design awards. The rest is history.

James Dyson

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