Design types gathered last night in Gotham for the presentation of the James Dyson Awards. There wasn’t a bagless vacuum in sight, but Dyson’s own fondness for efficiently picking things up came through in the U.S. finalist, the “Rake n’ Take.” Designed by Southern Illinois University Carbondale senior Ryan Jansen (pictured above), the newfangled rake not only gathers leaves but also picks them up with the help of a flexible rake head. In addition to Dyson Award finalist honors, Jansen’s design won the nationwide Eye for Why Student Competition sponsored by Dyson and the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA).
“I’ve raked lots of leaves and there’s always the problem of how do you get the leaves up and into a bag,” said Dyson (pictured below), in the clipped British accent that we can’t help but associate with top-notch cyclonic suction. “Ryan has solved that problem beautifully and in a way that no one has thought of before.”
Jansen and his professor, Walter Hargrove, were on hand to answer questions about the rake’s clever cam lock mechanism and the slide sleeve surrounding its elongated handle, while design historian (and SVA D-Crit faculty member) Russell Flinchum, New York Times reporter Phil Patton, and new IDSA executive director Frank Tyneski inspected the prototypes. We also chatted with the multitalented Tucker Viemeister (one of the Eye for Why judges) and former UnBeige editor Eva Hagberg, who both agreed that raking leaves was an often frustrating but potentially pleasurable task to which everyone could relate. Skeptics were directed to a pile of faux leaves that had been brought in for the occasion. It was enough to make many Manhattanites recall fondly the concept of a backyard.