James Dyson has made millions by allowing us to see the dirt we suck up. As he calls for more inventors, Lucy Siegle asks him about manufacturing abroad, design disasters and whether he could build a nuclear reactor
I am at Dyson HQ in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, the beacon of British industrialism, which is not a dark satanic mill but all light, contoured glass and bridges over placid water between sculptures. This is the birthplace of the bagless, see-through vacuum cleaner that offers 100% suction (so well known it need only be referred to as “the Dyson”) and the planet’s most powerful hand dryer, the Airblade. Bright young engineers emerge from testing rooms wearing non-business dress (an informal rule) and mingle in the sunshine. People are smiling and holding lattes from the shiny canteen. I’m starting to wish I’d listened harder in science classes.