Jake Dyson

In Conversation With

In Conversation with Jake Dyson

20 Mar , 2018  

If anyone’s going to revolutionize an industry, it’s Dyson. After having successfully reimagined the vacuum cleaner and electric fan – seemingly unlikely places of innovation – the pioneering British company has set its sights on another industry, namely lighting. The ambitious venture is driven by the vision of Jake Dyson, son of legendary inventor James Dyson, and himself, a prolific and disruptive product designer.

Jake Dyson
Jake with CSYS Task Light and Cu-Beam U-suspended light

We recently had the opportunity to attend the launch of Jake’s latest creation, the Cu-Beam™, which is regarded as an engineering marvel among LED products. There’s an obvious underlying passion behind his voice, a passion that we believe lies at the center of all Dyson products. Designing lights since 2006, Jake Dyson has maintained the same ethos; the technology and products he designs and produces are created to solve a problem and, at the same time, raise the bar for quality, aesthetics and functionality. Working in a family business affords him the luxury of taking a long-term view, and placing research and development at the forefront of the company. The surge in demand with each new product release shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.

We managed to sneak in a few minutes with Jake during the product launch, for a quick chat on technology, design, the family business, and what’s in store for the future. Here’s what he had to say.

Did your father's legacy have any influence on your career choice?

I always knew I wanted to tread down the engineering and product design path. And as with most aspiring entrepreneurs, there always lies an underlying fear of failure. But my father’s dedication towards his craft irrespective of the outcome is perhaps what inspired me to pursue this career without fear. I grew up witnessing him make prototype after prototype of the bag-less vacuum cleaner, and encountering numerous setbacks along the way. I do work closely with him, but also work on projects independently. I continue to find him enormously inspiring. Even once the product was considered “right”, there were many more battles in bringing it to market and protecting its intellectual property. Throughout, he remained resolute. Not fearing failure and persevering against the odds are core values at Dyson to this day. I can recall the days when Dyson had two employees. Today there are more than 10,000. The transformation has been enormous.

Jake Dyson
Jake & James Dyson; Photo Credits: Laura-Pannack

What motivated you to start a business in lighting design?

When I started developing lighting, there were several issues I was interested in addressing: why so many LED lights were producing an unpleasant blue-ish light; why were there LED bulbs and fixtures on the market quoting a lifetime of just 30,000-50,000 hours, when LED technology has the potential to last a lifetime? And why LEDs were so often being placed in conventional fixtures that had been designed for incandescent or fluorescent light sources, rather than specifically with LEDs in mind. I started my own lighting business in 2004 with the aim of finding solutions to these problems.

As a second generation business leader, what changes have you made, or are looking to make, within the Dyson brand?

Research and development will always be at the forefront of our approach towards problem-solving. I view my role as being a long-term custodian for the business on behalf of the Dyson family. Dyson is a family business and will remain so. The benefit of family ownership, and not answering to the stock exchange, is that we can take a very long-term view. We invest £7 million GBP every week into research and development, and we take as long as we need to perfect our technology before we bring it to market. There is no pressure to rush product releases in order to keep shareholders happy. We will continue to develop novel technology and push the bar of innovation for as long as it takes.

Dyson Pure Cool

What are your favorite Dyson products, and why?

It’s hard to pick one, but if I had to, I’d say I’m particularly fond of the digital motor technology we’ve developed that are so integral to many Dyson products. Almost two decades ago my father decided that Dyson should develop its own motors, instead of relying on those produced by third parties. At the time, people thought it was a crazy decision, but thanks to the intensive research and development that followed, we now have some of the world’s smallest yet fastest electric motors. They have enabled us to produce cord-free vacuum cleaners that perform as well as traditional corded ones, a quieter hair dryer with a motor the diameter of a coin in its handle, and hand dryers that use high-speed sheets of air to dry hands in a fraction of the time. In 2015, I brought my range of LED suspended lights and task lights into Dyson to complement the existing product range.

Jake Dyson
Dyson Cu-Beam

What makes a product stand out to you?

I think that a product must be useful, and should draw upon science and engineering to solve a particular problem. At Dyson, we never add unnecessary styling to products: form follows function. We strive for lean engineering too – no superfluous parts or materials.

What exciting project are you working on at the moment?

I’m continuing to advance our lighting technology, while also working across different product categories. I can’t say too much about what we’re working on, but within lighting, I’m increasingly interested in how light can affect factors such as productivity and wellbeing.

Dyson recently announced plans to foray into the Electric Cars Industry. Are you involved in this venture, and if so, what is the extent of your involvement?

Electric cars is a disruptive industry that we’re excited to be venturing into. Dyson will launch a battery electric vehicle in 2020, but unfortunately I can’t say much more than that as the industry is very competitive and we can’t give anything away. The vehicle will represent a culmination of everything we’ve learnt so far, from fields including motors, energy storage and fluid dynamics.

What advice would you give young engineers and industrial designers?

My advice for young engineers is to be unafraid to fail, to have conviction in your ideas and to seek advice from those who have already gone through the process of bringing an idea to fruition.

We’re very proud to launch the James Dyson Award in the UAE this year. It’s an international student design prize, which recognizes inventions that help to solve a problem. I can’t wait to see the entries from students in the region!

Jake Dyson
Dyson CSYS Task Light


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