Written by Sandra Tan.
Last month, intriguing inventor and product designer Jake Dyson visited Dyson’s Sydney headquarters. A small group of attendees, myself included, were welcomed into the industrial office space – the ground floor of the recently converted Alexandria woolstore furnished with a collection of CSYS lights. The effect was uniquely atmospheric, with warm pools of light creating a chiaroscuro environment for guests to mingle in, before Dyson himself was given the floor.
It is lamentably rare to have the inventor of a product speak about it publicly, and the insight into the younger Dyson’s design and development process was particularly informative, given the calibre of design associated with the Dyson name. The CSYS is the product of rigorous testing that Dyson personally drove, and their hands-on, comparatively no-frills analysis methods are a testament to their pursuit of functionality.
Last night, I opened my Dyson CSYS light. The first sign something a bit fancy is in store is that before you can even think of assembling it, there are instructions on how to open it. Two hands please, don’t touch xyz and attach this before unwrapping that. But that is basically it. After very minimal effort and a few turns of an Allen key, you have an elegant piece of electrical ingenuity in your home.
Firstly, it looks slick. It is a no-nonsense right angle, all brushed steel – there is also a black version – which seems more like a tool than an ornament. Which, of course, it is – a tool for illuminating the space around it rather than asserting its own presence by superficial design flourishes. As Jake explained, the most crucial part of the entire mechanism is one singular unassuming little wheel, which provides exactly the right amount of tension to enable seamless vertical movement, accounting for gravity. As the component must be manually adjusted in the manufacturing stages, Dyson himself spent time with factory staff to physically demonstrate its precise positioning. By hand. So to say his fingerprints are all over the product is in this case an uncommonly, incredibly literal statement.
The most exciting parts of the CSYS are contained within. Dyson’s breakthrough in copper heat pipe technology, modeled on the thermal management technology used in satellites, ensures that the quality of light will endure for 144,000 hours – just about enough time for me to finish every book I ever started. The same technology is available in their pendant light, with in-built shutters to selectively illuminate the ceiling and top of the room as well as working surfaces below.
Though it appears almost surgical in its simplicity, the CSYS is surprisingly tactile. The great joy of the light is in discovering the effortless vertical and horizontal motion of its LED arm – which eliminates lamp droop, and the intuitive power switch. The light dims the longer you rest your finger on it, and when switched off, remembers your last setting upon your next press.
It’s smart, and importantly, it’s fun. And it’s a Dyson.