Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Elements of Style: An Inside Look at the Industrial Design Team

They’re the unseen connection between our engineers and the people who use our products. We sat down with Hoover designer Richard Friend to talk about ID, inspiration and innovation. Here’s what he said.

Industrial design (ID) is the professional service of creating and developing concepts and specifications that optimize the function, value and appearance of products and systems for the mutual benefit of both user and manufacturer. –Industrial Designers Society of America


We can’t just make things look pretty. At the same time, we have to be thinking, when this is on the shelf, how will shoppers know they want it?


You’re trying to get to where people can look at the cleaner and understand, without text, what it does. It’s making the pocket around the battery a different color, so it draws attention to the battery. So without reading “cordless,” you can see the battery.

When we first started working on the Air Cordless, a lot of the inspiration, the styling, came from the movie Tron.


As the project evolved, one of the things that changed was the lines of the cleaner. A lot of the angles got more aggressive, while some of the corners got a little softer. We wanted to keep the powerful feel of our Air line of vacuums, but we wanted to make the Air Cordless a little more approachable.


We bring up cars a lot because it’s easy to communicate. Whether you realize it or not, you’re familiar with car brands. We compared our line of cordless vacuums to Audi – the Air Cordless is more of an R8, a sports car, with intricate surfaces, a lot of details.


Anything can inspire me: movies, going to the store to buy cooking utensils, painting supplies. It’s one of those things that you can’t force; it kind of comes to you when it wants to.


When these project boards are up, people often give us suggestions. Someone who works on extractors, for example, and happens to be passing through, might see something on a board that sparks an idea. 


The boards tell the story of how a design got to where it did. It’s communication: You’re always trying to communicate something. The easiest way is through images. 


There’s this conception that people say, the handle feels this way on its own – that just happens. But actually, there’s a lot of time, research and effort that goes into making things like that. Having the handle angled that way on the Air Cordless for steerability – a lot of development time went into making it a steerable product. The handle is that angle for a reason. We actually think about why we’re doing it.


My favorite part of my job is going into the model shop and building stuff out of foam. To me, it’s the fastest way to get justification, to test things. It’s a gut-check moment. You can see, OK, it’s going to be this big, people can hold it this way. You can lie in a sketch – you can show something that can’t be done. When you have to build it, you realize that.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Hoover Air Vacuum Cleaners: Which One Is Right For You?

L. to R. Hoover Air Steerable, Air Cordless and WindTunnel Air

Comparing the Hoover WindTunnel Air vs. the Air Steerable vs. the Air Cordless

We designed our Air family of vacuums to be incredibly light and easy to use, without sacrificing power.

But while they're all part of the same family, they are each different machines. We'll walk you through the differences so you can decide if upgrading to the Steerable or to the Cordless is the right choice for you.


Air Family Comparison Chart 




Key Similarities

  • Low profile, for cleaning under furniture
  • Lightweight and powerful
  • WindTunnel3 technology for pickup
  • Hose for above-floor cleaning
  • Above-floor cleaning 

Key Differences

  • The Air Steerable and Air Cordless feature skateboard technology that helps the vacuum swivel and twist with ease
  • The Air Cordless is Hoover's first cordless, full-size upright vacuum and comes standard with two LithiumLife batteries, for an average of 50 minutes of fade-free run time on carpets and hard floors.

Learn More ...

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Find Your Floor: Frieze Carpet

Wading through flooring options? We're here to help. 

Use this infograph to decide if Frieze Carpet is right for you:

Friday, August 22, 2014

A Tradition of Innovation

Turning on the Model O, Hoover's first vacuum cleaner

By Andy Netzel

Engineer Dan Miller cautiously
starts up the Hoover Model O.

I am tempted to find a light socket, just like early innovators did over a century ago. Plug it in where the light bulbs go, as wall sockets weren't in most homes. Heck -- even a light socket would've been hard to find; electricity wasn't in most homes when Hoover engineers built the first electric suction sweeper.

We don't want to risk it, though. The engineer with us fires it up slowly, plugging it into a massive machine that lets you increase the voltage slowly.

The last thing we want to do is break the first vacuum cleaner Hoover ever made.


Side by Side

Mo Irfan, director of Industrial Design at Hoover, examines the Model O, then the Air Cordless. The Cordless -- built on a design platform that came from Mo's head -- is  a full-sized cordless upright that can clean your whole home -- a first for Hoover. The Model O was also a first: The first vacuum cleaner of its kind when it was designed.

"It's remarkable," he says, touching one machine, then the other. "Many of the Hoover design principles are here in this machine, too. It's almost like it was on purpose."

Of course it wasn't. This is the first time Mo has seen the Model O in person. Reading a book on the history of vacuum cleaners is the closest he'd otherwise come.

The Model O was the first vacuum ever produced by Hoover. At the time, in 1908, our company was a tannery. We were innovating then, too. The Hoover Company produced harnesses that enabled horses to pull carts with their chests. Other designs at the time simply went over the head, and horses tired quickly as the carts they pulled choked them.

The vacuum cleaner was a side project, started by a janitor who worked at the Hoover Company and was looking for a better way to clean.

At first glance, it looks so primitive. It's a pillowcase attached to a broom handle, with a
bulbous metal motor.

But there's so much beauty. Each one was pinstriped by hand. The curves are both functional and streamlined.  "New Berlin, Ohio" is stenciled with pride on the front, the former name of North Canton before World War II politics prompted the name change. It's truly art.

Mo looks the vacuum up and down. Based on the serial number, the one we have with us is the fourth physical unit that came off the line. Built, pinstriped and first used in 1908, when the machine felt like magic. He points to the shape of the head, the same shape echoed by Hoover's first cordless bagless upright vacuum. He runs his finger along the nozzle arch, which is nearly identical in angle to the nozzle on the Air Cordless.

Dan Miller, Hoover's head of testing, smiles. You know, this was the height of convenience, he says. Low maintenance. You just need to oil it after every use. And while this is a lot heavier than vacuums today, this was lightweight for a machine this size then.


Vacuum Connoisseurs

You might be surprised at how many true vacuum aficionados I encounter in my line of work. They run personal museums from their basements. They have hundreds of vacuums in their personal collection.

I'm not there yet.

I have two vacuums in my home -- a workhorse upright and a stick vac.

Still, after spending so much time with our modern cleaners, I can't help but have reverence for the machine that started the company.


Turning the Model O On

We turn it on slowly, Dan's hand twisting the nob that provides electricity to the machine. At any moment, he can spin it back to zero if the vacuum sounds like something is going awry.

One hundred and six years after it was created, the Model O hums to life without hesitation.

I expect a roar. Instead, it's a soothing sound.

As vacuum cleaners got more powerful and smaller, the sound produced has gotten pushed to a different pitch. The Model O may not clean like modern-day vacuums, but I could listen to it all day long.


Inspiration for Innovation

I can only imagine the feeling the Spanglers and Hoovers had 100+ years ago when they took home the first models of the "electric suction sweeper" to try in their homes.

It was an invention that changed the way you clean.

Over the past year, a sprawling team of Hoover employees has worked tirelessly to launch the Hoover Air Cordless.

I got to take home one of the first cordless upright vacuums produced. I was asked to use it. A lot. Reflect on how that machine is different than a regular, plugged-in vacuum.

I didn't expect much when I brought it home. I figured it would be more convenient, but just another iteration of a vacuum cleaner that I already owned.

Instead, it changed the way I clean.

I intended to clean one room -- then I'd clean all the rooms on that floor. I was unimpeded. The cord, which I never would have said held me back, wasn't there to suggest I stop the task.

We came up with the phrase "Rethink Cleaning" to describe that moment.

It's more than just a marketing line. It's an affirmation. It's a promise. And, really, it's a challenge to each of us who work on creating new machines going forward.

The Floor Is Yours: Create an Inspiring Homework Station


It’s back-to-school season, and we’ve got some amazing tips from home décor expert Kim Myles that will help you carve out a space where your kids can do their best work. 

By Amber Matheson


Along with American Girl dolls and those toy cars you could actually drive, the item at the top of my annual Christmas list as a kid was a desk, preferably small, white and embellished – maybe with a roll-top feature or elegant scrollwork accents. I was a crafty kid, an introverted bookworm who flitted from decoupage to paper mache to calligraphy, and I craved a space where I could go to create.


I never got the desk – or the doll, or the car for that matter. I spent my childhood working on projects and schoolwork at the dining room table. And that, says design guru Kim Myles, is perfectly fine.


“I did my homework at a kitchen counter for my whole life!” she exclaims. “So much of what happens in design is feelings of inadequacy, this fear of not doing it right or not doing enough. If you have a dedicated space to devote, that’s amazing. If not, there are little things you can do regardless of your square footage.”


Follow anyone under the age of 18 around for a few hours, and one thing is crystal clear: technology is part of life. Setting out some cute pencil holders and stashing erasers in a cubby just won’t cut it.


“Make it really functional,” says Myles. She emphasizes finding a spot in the house that’s already outfitted for the task at hand. That means hunting down a space with enough electrical outlets to go around, clearing out the clutter and designating an area that’s open to everyone.


“I love the idea of creating an office space that the whole family can use,” she explains. “Everything should be able to happen in this space.”


Can your home office (whether it’s a nook in the kitchen or a full-fledged room) do double duty? If that space has been traditionally adults-only, reconsider opening it up to your kids – it might just help them take their schoolwork a little more seriously.



If, like Kim and me, your child bellies up to the counter or the table to do their homework, help them out by creating a ritual around the experience: Get a lavender candle, says Myles, and make it the study candle.


“Light the candle, and suddenly the room smells beautiful and that is the signal to begin work, to begin studying,” she explains. “It doesn’t have to be, ‘I have to pick up a paintbrush, I have to purchase a rug. It can be something small.” Not into candles? Use placemats that are just for homework time. Whatever cue will suit your child best, employ it in a way that creates a ritual for the homework experience.



Is there an unused corner of your living room? Claim it for homework with one simple step: Throw down an area rug. “I’m a huge fan of area rugs for that reason,” says Myles. “People say, ‘why would I put a rug on top of carpet?’ Why wouldn’t you? It makes it extra marshmallow-y and cushy.”


Just because serious stuff is about to happen, it doesn’t mean the space needs to be all business, too. Create a soft, inviting area and your kids might be a little more likely to gravitate there of their own accord.



“Philosophically, we inhabit our spaces,” says Myles. “To make that really true, to connect to that, a huge part of it is putting your fingerprints on the space.” Parents can often feel like getting kids involved in decorating or renovation is more hassle than it’s worth, but the flip side is that by involving them, you’re getting their buy-in. When our kids are little, we’re told over and over again to involve them in cooking dinner. Why? Because they’re more likely to eat a dinner they helped cook (even if it includes vegetables).


So what to do if your kid picks bright purple for a study room wall – and you can’t bear the thought of it? “There are so many versions of purple out there,” says Myles. “Compromise! ‘OK, purple is our palate, we’ll go with a really soft lilac.’”



Kids don’t want to live in a beige environment, Myles notes. Whatever, wherever you designate as the homework area, it should be stimulating – and inspiring. Consider colors that will help, not hinder.


“Blue is fabulous,” she says. “It’s calming, focusing, stimulating to the intellect.” She also recommends the happy, invigorating vibes that yellow can add to a space. “It’s fun – that’s the message you’re sending,” she explains. “Studying is going to get you to your goals in life, and it’s an exciting thing to be fattening your brain up.”


Want more tips and tricks from Kim Myles rule-free handbook? She employs her fabulous, funky approach to design on “Home Made Simple” every Saturday morning at 9 a.m. ET on the OWN network. You can also follow her on Twitter or visit her website (where you can even book your own personal Skype call to ask her your specific design issues!), and of course you can always find her on Facebook, too.