Hardly known at all today, the floor polisher was once one of Electrolux’s Big Three. After the fridge and the vacuum cleaner, this was the product which sold best and was most in demand. The launch of a new model was always an assignment for high profile designers.
In 1972, the vacuum cleaner and floor polisher combined accounted for a quarter of all Electrolux’s sales. But as flooring fashions changed with the introduction of new products and larger carpets, sales of the latter shrank dramatically in northern Europe. However in Latin America and Southern Europe it remained popular.
Product image of Model B2 floor polisher
The art of polishing
In 2018 who knows how to polish a floor? Great-grandma might the only one left in the family who could use a polisher properly. It is a time-consuming, arduous process consisting of three stages: cleaning, waxing and buffing. A thorough polishing removes dirt, allergens and dustmites. A home with well-polished floors is a healthy home.
The golden age
One of Electrolux’s missions was to make life easier for the housewife and taking proper care of the floors was one of the most exhausting and time- consuming tasks in the home. Therefore, in 1925 Wenner-Gren looked at the polishers on sale and immediately saw they left a lot to be desired.
His engineers rose to the task of making improvements with vigour. Their solution was a revolutionary, triangular, triple brush system which gave a fine, glossy result and production began in 1927. Making a tough job a lot easier, the polisher was a product that greatly enhanced Electrolux’s reputation.
This quote from a 1945 brochure makes it clear how important the polisher was in the company’s early history.
“The product which after the vacuum cleaner has saved most time and energy is the floor polisher. It has made an enormous contribution to the company’s good reputation.”
The best designers
In the 1930s Wenner-Gren recruited top US designers Raymond Loewy and Lurelle Guild who were both asked to work on polisher design. In the 1950s, a Swedish design maestro was called in: Sixten Sason. He was well-known for his work for Saab Automobiles and Hasselblad Cameras, not to mention the Silverpilen Motorbike.
Design sketch for floor polisher Model B9 by Sixten Sason
Superstar no more
Throughout the 20th Century, there were many changes to the domestic life of the average citizen. New patterns of behaviour emerged, old traditions disappeared. The rise and fall of certain key domestic products tell a tale and nowhere is this more true than the floor polisher. The former superstar of the appliance world is now almost completely forgotten, however the challenges for Electrolux to develop labor saving devices which ensure a healthy home live on.