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News Bites: Industrial Design Alumni Help Power Design of Bissell’s New Pet Hair Vacuum

Posted October 5, 2016 in AlumniIndustrial Design

Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD) alumni Adam Carr (’01, BFA Industrial Design) and Jake Mikula (’13, BFA Industrial Design) recently helped bring a pet-focused product to market for vacuum cleaner and floor care product powerhouse Bissell.

Working through OCTANE Product Design, the Grand Rapids-based company Carr started in 2009, Carr and Mikula collaborated with a designer at Bissell to design the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser from the ground up. Carr, who interned at Bissell during his time at KCAD and was employed by the company from 2002-2007, says that Bissell engineers are constantly experimenting with common problems faced in the home, like tackling pesky pet hair. When the engineers begin to find solutions, the experiments become projects and Bissell brings both in-house designers and contract designers like Carr and Mikula, who also interned at Bissell for a year before joining OCTANE in 2013, into the process.

vacuum designed by KCAD alumni(above and below): The Bissell Pet Hair Eraser (images courtesy of Bissell)

Some aspects of the vacuum’s engineering created interesting design problems for the team to solve. For instance, the motor sat at an odd angle, so the design had to accommodate for that  while also maintaining a sleek and modern exterior aesthetic. The designers also had to find creative ways to incorporate elements such as a tangle-free brush roll, a hands-free collection canister, and attachment tools that could handle larger messes like spilled kibble or reach into corners to retrieve those hard-to-reach balls of pet hair.  

Alumnus Jake Mikula sketchingMikula sketching out design solutions for the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser (image courtesy of OCTANE Product Design) 

“We had something that looked different from other vacuums because of the unique performance aspects, so we had to make it aesthetically appealing,” says Carr. “Form follows function. We try to stay true to that.”

Carr and his fellow designers found solutions by experimenting in a real world setting, filling a car with pet hair and testing design iterations to see which worked and which didn’t.

design renderings(above and below): Early design renderings of the Bissell Pet Hair Eraser (images courtesy of Bissell) 

design renderings

“Some of the team members used the environment to try out different designs for a crevice tool, and they eventually came up with something longer and thinner than the design they started with, including a special tip that collects hair and an LED light that helps you see,” says Carr.

The Bissell Pet Hair Eraser is currently being sold online and in stores, and is already getting great reviews from customers.

Learn more about KCAD’s Industrial Design program at kcad.edu/industrial.