James Dyson is fascinated by gold as an element – both its scientific properties and unique colour. It is one of the most resilient materials in the world, and has been used in design, sculpture and architecture for centuries. James is also passionate about the age-old process of gold leafing. Inspired by both the element and gilding process, James challenged his engineers to find a way to apply gold leaf to the signature Dyson Supersonic hair dryer.
Here’s the result – the Dyson Supersonic 23.75 karat gold hair dryer.
To this day, gilding has been done by hand in workshops around the world. It’s a highly skilled trade and one that has never been made into mass production. Precision is essential. But Dyson’s engineers set out to learn the craft, in order to explore methods to apply the gold in a repeatable fashion.
To remain as close to the traditional method of gilding as possible, a red gesso colour has been applied beneath the gold leaf on the loop of the product. This is to celebrate how gold leaf has been applied through its history.
How an obsession with materials led Dyson past matters of colour
The Dyson Supersonic hair dryer was developed using precision engineering. Powered by the patented Dyson digital motor, it is designed for fast drying and uses intelligent heat control to help protect hair against extreme heat damage.
On 23 November 2018, Dyson will be releasing the new Dyson Supersonic 23.75 karat gold hair dryer. Designed by James Dyson, this hair dryer is gold leafed using a traditional hand – gilding method and is the first of its kind. Every cap is hand gilt in 23.75k gold.
Just in time for Christmas, this will be the ultimate luxurious hair pampering gift which you can get for your loved ones.
Developing superior technology is at the heart of what Dyson does. This includes the materials used and how Dyson’s machines are constructed. James challenged the Dyson engineers to find a way to apply gold leaf to the Dyson Supersonic hair dryer.
James Dyson says, “Gold is one of the most resilient materials in the world and has been used in design, sculpture and architecture for centuries. As an element, I’m fascinated by its properties. Like the engineering process we pride ourselves on, gilding is a true example of meticulous craftsmanship.”
The art of gilding has been in practice for thousands of years. Thin leaves and foils of precious metals are applied to a surface, giving it the appearance of solid or inlaid metal. The technique used to apply gold has changed little since its beginnings.
The design engineers and model makers at Dyson first learned the skills for gilding under a master guilder, learning the process and technique to gild.
Once learnt, the design and engineering team sought how to scale the process, making it more repeatable and perfecting the surface finish specifically for this application. Exploring industrial processes, the team quickly learned the process could be aided by technology but ultimately a craftsman’s hand skills remained paramount. At approximately 333 atoms thick, 1/775th the diameter of human hair, each layer of gold leaf must be applied by hand.
Dyson and Engineering Lead Britta Stockinger says, “At Dyson we aren’t afraid to take on a new challenge. We weren’t experts in gold or gold leafing but we broke down the technique into individual steps to understand how each parameter affects the finish and how we could best apply it to our hair dryer. Using our expertise in design processes, adhesives, paint and model making, we managed to learn a very traditional skill and translate it to a 21st century application.”
Beneath the gold leaf is a red loop which honours the traditional method of gilding. Dyson matched the red found on artwork, sculptures and other artefacts where gold leaf is applied. Like other gold-leafed pieces, the red loop on the product will reveal some of its colour over time, giving each gold-leafed hair dryer a distinctive and unique patina.
During development, Dyson engineers rigged a robotic paint arm to carefully apply an adhesive called ‘size’ onto the surface of the red loop. The robotic arm ensured the adhesive was repeatedly applied the same each time, ensuring a perfect unblemished finish.
Once sprayed, two layers of 23.75k gold leaf from Florence, Italy, is applied by hand and carefully brushed to form a smooth and even finish.
More about the Dyson Supersonic hair dryer
Motor enabled: the small but powerful Dyson digital motor V9 sits in the handle, not the head, making it much more ergonomic and comfortable to hold. Its 13-blade impeller spins at up to 110,000rpm, generating 3.5kPa of pressure and propelling 13 litres of air up to the amplifier every second.
Fast and focused: with the motor in the handle, there’s space in the head for Air Multiplier technology, the same technology used in Dyson’s purifying fans and humidifiers. The jet of air that exits the loop creates an area of low pressure, which draws in surrounding air through inducement and entrainment. Air is drawn in by the motor and then amplified by three times. It produces a high-pressure, high-velocity jet of air for fast drying and styling.
Helps protect natural shine: a glass bead thermistor and microprocessor carefully controls a double-stacked heating element. The exit air temperature is measured 20 times per second, helping to protect hair from extreme heat damage.
Settings and attachments: there are four heat settings, including a cool shot and ‘always cool’ option, and three airflow settings. Dyson engineers have designed three magnetic attachments – a styling concentrator, smoothing nozzle and diffuser – to further control airflow, allowing people with different hair types to achieve a range of styles.
Availability in Singapore
The Dyson Supersonic 23.75 karat gold hair dryer retails at S$799 and will launch officially on 23 November 2018 on shop.dyson.com.sg. Online pre-orders begin from November 2018.