Decorating & Design - Flooring

James Dyson: Vacuum virtuoso

A Q&A with the man who changed the face of floors forever.

S@H: What's beautiful?
I find gears, bits of engineering, far more beautiful than nearly any sculpture. It's almost heresy to say that, but they have a sort of beauty and a meaning that sculpture never can.

S@H: Because they perform a function as opposed to just being beautiful?
Well, some sculptures have a statement to make, a profound statement, but I'm happiest with an engineering statement: the ways gears mesh and transmit power and produce the speed, and just the sheer look of them.

S@H: Which architects do you admire?
There are a lot of good architects about, which is exciting. People like [Norman] Foster, [Richard] Rogers and [Chris] Wilkinson, whose company did this building [the Dyson headquarters in Malmesbury, England] -- these are people who are engineers, at least at heart, so the structure is very apparent in their buildings.

S@H: What are your fave household product designs -- other than your own, of course!
I don't have many. They're very dull!

S@H: Nothing stands out to you?
Very little. There's this [electronic eraser] I got for $2 in Japan. And we have something called the Quooker; it provides boiling water on tap, cutting out the need for a kettle and speeding up the cooking of rice, pasta and all sorts of things. And Global knives -- they're the best.

S@H: What about Philippe Starck's Juicy Salif lemon squeezer?
I prefer his interiors. I do like Boffi kitchens. And the Achille Castiglioni Toio lamp; designed in the '60s, it has a transformer on show and a fishing rod vernacular. I'm more keen on high-tech things than anything else.

S@H: Favourite place to be and thing to do?
Golly! I don't think I particularly have that! I'm very happy on the water, sailing or doing something that involves battling the elements, and driving a digger -- what do you call it? An excavator. I'm happier doing that than lying on a beach.

Spring cleaning smarts
Always dust before vacuuming. Dusting disturbs particles that will eventually end up on the carpet, where you can vacuum them up.

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