Inside Dyson: Design, development and the retail sell (Part Two)

By Claire Reilly

With the recent launch of Dyson’s new DC44 Digital Slim Animal handstick vacuum cleaner, the British company has updated its technology and offered retailers an innovative new product to sell to consumers.

In part two of this special Q&A with Dyson design engineer Nichola Sheargold, Current.com.au learns about what goes inside the walls of a Dyson design workshop.

Current.com.au: What is it like to work at Dyson as a young engineer?

Nichola Sheargold: I think Dyson is a very young company so they’ve got a real drive to try and recruit as many graduates as possible and get in loads of new young talent. I am quite young – I’m 26 – but I’m probably one of the more experienced and older people there. You go to the workshop and it’s almost like being back at university because it is just young people and you’re all just kind of tinkering away. It’s a really positive place to work.

C: What does the Dyson grad program involve?

NS: Dyson are trying to recruit about 800 new graduates, so every two weeks we’ll get a new import and maybe 20 new graduates will start. The point is that everyone has really fresh ideas. When you come straight from uni, you’ve not worked somewhere else, you’re not stale and you come in with loads of energy. So we really try and cherry pick people who are really excited about design, who have technical ability and that really want to design our products.

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C: What happens when you are developing a new product?

NS: We do a lot of testing. When I was designing the Digital Slim, one of the issues was about the handling and how it feels, so I spent a lot of time out on our user course, which is a room full of carpets of all different types. You can basically go out and try the vacuum on different surfaces and see how the brush bar behaves. I can be out there all day and maybe I’ll make a little change, I’ll just glue something on or shave something away and then go at it again. So it’s really hands on.

We’re not out there with a piece of paper trying to work out what’s going to happen. We go out there and we try it, and then we understand what’s gone wrong, what’s gone right and we implement changes. We’re learning every day. People that have been there 10 years are still learning.

C: How do you deal with working on one vacuum for such a long time?

NS: It’s good because it’s constantly changing. I’ll go into work one day and I’ll be doing some of the computer design. And then maybe my rig that I was testing might break and I’ll go into the workshop to take it apart. I’ll then realise there’s a change, I’ll make that on CAD [Computer-Aided Design], I’ll prototype it and 3 days later I’ll have the bits so I can build the next part. It doesn’t get dull because it’s constantly changing.

Read Part One of our exclusive Dyson Q&A here

A cross section of a Dyson motor.

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