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Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Big Cheers for Quiet Design


Somebody once told me "if the Death Star had a tube station, it'd be Westminster"; and anyone who has passed through the terminus will know this holds true. It's a monolithic concrete bunker with cantilevered steel beams, industrial uplighters and scissored escalators. Subtle it is not.

In this respect, if the Death Star needed a vacuum cleaner, it'd be spoilt for choice. Almost every bagless cyclone machine on the market seems to have several dozen conical protrusions and articulated joints, with flashes of patronising neon colours around every gasket, bolt and wheel nut.

We're not designing Lloyds of London here. Vacuum cleaners should be more like the well turned out domestic staff that use them; unobtrusive, quiet and reliable. It's why I was drawn to the top of the range Mach Zen 2 by British firm Vax.

Designed in the UK, it's masculine but not overly Richard Rogers. A single orange badge bearing the firm's logo is the only departure from the model's sleek gunmetal and white body. But handsome looks aside, the Mach Zen 2 has the privilege of grooming Ultraloft's £60/sqm finewool floors for a very specific reason [more on the floors later].

The Vax is 70% quieter than a conventional cylinder vacuum. Quieter even than top of the range Dyson, and with more AirWatt power too. Switching it on, I'm almost certain the moon fell out of orbit and the tides forever altered. It's obscene. Carlos the cowhide never had such a grooming in his life, and poor Graham the springbok bathmat almost dissapeared down the Zen 2's stealthy nozzle.

That said, it's probably better to leave rest of the Ultraloft to the professionals, but with a six year warranty as standard, it's anyone's bet who will outlast who; the Zen 2 or the cleaner. Trawling around online it's apparent that Vax have an almost 'Apple level' of customer care [and thinking about it, the Zen 2 wouldn't look amiss with a famous white fruit on the bonnet] so perhaps better to place your bets on the Vax.
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