dysonI was leafing through the shopping porno mag that is the Argos catalogue the other day, while my kids were watching The New Mr Men show, which is totally awesome, by the way. Why awesome? Well, they have unashamedly reinforced every stereotype known to man. Mr Rude? French. Mr Grumpy? Yorkshire Man. Mr Stubborn? Scot. Mr Messy? Scouser. Love it.

Where was I? Oh yeah, Argos. For those of you don’t know, Argos were originally an arse-about-face shopping ‘experience’ where you pick things out of a laminated, wipe clean (like it really was porn) catalogue and then you write down the stock number – as if you work there – and then queue to pay for it at one desk and then join another queue at another desk while some socially retarded gimp scuttles off into a ‘warehouse’ located behind the store to find your item. I know, it sounds bizarre –  and it is. However, it does fulfil some quirky British needs: namely, the desire to queue and the need to intellectualise stuff that doesn’t need to be intellectualised – namely (again) to try and turn shopping into reading. Odd.

It’s all online now, of course, but you can still get the catalogue and browse through it slavishly, looking at products made by Bush; the most unfortunate brand name ever. What struck me the other day, though, was how infuential Dyson have become on hoover design* (I know, I should say vacuum cleaners, but I am a child of the seventies when they knew how to brand: so that all products were called your brand…). So I flick through seeing what Electrolux and Phillips are doing and they’ve all basically copied Dyson…but I don’t give a monkeys, because I don’t understand why.

It’s not that I don’t like the design, I do. It’s great…in a kind of late ’80’s, RCA product-design yearbook kind of way: it practically smells of magic markers…and I like the bagless cylinder thing going on – yay, save the planet...the yellow detailing, the grey finish – oooh, yeaaah, gimme the keys to my Audi TT and let’s page someone…you know, it’s all good, I got it.

My problem with it (as if you’re never going to hear it…) is that it’s £250.00 for something that spends 98% of it’s life under the stairs, and no matter how funky or ergonomically functional or new wave it will still spend 98% of it’s time under the stairs unless you are a very, very, very sad individual indeed who likes to display their cleaning equipment in full view; maybe as a dinner party talking point or…actually, I can’t think of another reason.

I feel like I have betrayed the brotherhood and rubbished a piece of cutting edge product design; that we need more progressive design in our households, more daring, more thinking outside the box.

But…it’s a hoover! It lives under the stairs! Who fucking cares?! Just make it all beige or green…or just amalgam of  plastic colours together because it doesn’t matter when it’s under the stairs in the dark. When I hoover I am not going to turn round and look at the hoover and think: hot damn, that is a fine piece of product design, that makes me feel better about myself, that I am part of a lifestyle that I never thought I’d ever attain…oh, man, what am I doing? I need to hoover…

We have a Henry and the designers have just stuck some eyes on it. As far as I’m concerned, that’s job done, design wise.

* I understand that I need to get out more.


5 thoughts on “Hoovers

  1. From gossiping with friends I gathered that Dysons are expensive and break down easily. Last year, I inherited a bagless Electrolux. When I read that I had to replace a £60 filter twice a year, I gave it away.

    When I spoke to the bloke who sells spare parts and Hoover bags on the market, he said “buy a Henry”. Wherever I see cleaners in the hospital or at work, they use a Henry.

    This is the problem I have with the popular idea of design. Marketers want us to believe that “design” is all about funky looks like Dysons, iPods and such. For me, design is mostly about durability and function, like Roberts radios, NAD amplifiers, Toshiba toughbook laptops.

  2. I’d have to agree. Anything that isn’t built to last is poorly designed, IMO. I think some companies engineer their products to break…

    BUT, if it were all about durability and functionality, we’d all be riding butcher’s bikes, driving Toyota Hylux pick-ups and wearing Barbour jackets. Heaven forbid we turn into a rural version of the Taliban!

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