James attended London’s Byam Shaw art school but painting beautiful objects wasn’t enough. James wanted to make, and the Royal College of Art allowed just that. James studied architecture, but instead of colonnades and cladding, robust marine engineering was the order of the day. He developed a flat-hulled high-speed landing craft and, with it, his passion for engineering. Pretty soon, he’d also developed a new kind of wheelbarrow – one with a big fat ball that didn’t sink into mud and chunky feet for stability. All the while learning to take risks, make mistakes and use frustration as a fuel for creativity and solving problems.
Problems like vacuum cleaners that lose suction. Could the cyclone technology he’d first spotted on a sawmill work in a vacuum cleaner? He ripped the dusty clogged bag from his old vacuum and replaced it with a crude prototype. 5,126 prototypes later: Dual Cyclone™ technology and the first bagless vacuum cleaner.
During the five years it took to develop his first vacuum, James was also battling. First to convince other manufacturers to embrace his new technology. Then to protect his invention when they copied it. It’s enough to give you a complex. And it did. James’ experience informs the way Dyson works today. Keeping our inventions secret. Protecting our ideas. Always taking risks. Like developing a washing machine with 2-drums; emission-filtering diesel exhausts; clean air hand dryers; balls instead of wheels; robots – even a new type of school to get young people into engineering. Always new and better.