Just like the toilet, the umbrella is something you probably don’t think about a lot unless it’s annoying you. But just like the toilet, the umbrella is huge business; via The New Yorker, it’s a $348 million industry annually — and that’s just in the United States. You would think that, with 33 million umbrellas being bought and sold just in America every year, we could solve the problem of dripping wet cloth in your hallway and near your shoes. By and large, we haven’t yet. The Telegraph once called the ‘quest for a better umbrella’ akin to the holy grail of inventors. It’s hard, though: there’s only so much space one wants to dedicate to an umbrella in their life, so a massive redesign might be more confusing than functional.
There are many people out there trying to make the perfect umbrella, including Japanese inventor Hiroshi Kajimoto, who created the UNbrella:
It’s inside-out-folding, so the rainwater would stay trapped in the middle portion, then funnel and drain out. You can stand it up too, if you want to drip dry it. The issue with UNbrella is that, when reversed inside-out, it’s about 2x bigger than a standard umbrella (I feel like I’m taking a Proctor and Gamble employment exam trying to determine this mathematically in my head), so Americans will probably never go for it (or any nationality that doesn’t want umbrellas taking up huge amounts of space in the foyer region).
There’s also the Rain Shield:
And the Rainshader:
And the Senz umbrella:
Then there’s umbrellas from France that can cost you $10,800. Those aren’t meant to innovate; they’re meant to be passed down to your grandchildren.
Brolly Rain Umbrellas have one where you can text while underneath:
Someone made a video for Quirky (crowd-sourcing ideas, essentially) on creating a new umbrella:
There’s also full-body umbrellas, popular in Japan and with suburban American d-bags:
There’s also the Nubrella, which looks a bit terrifying to consider wearing:
Weird. You know, when I started this blog my entire point was to learn stuff about things I had no idea about. I could never have thought that there were people out there trying all sorts of ways to improve upon something as basic as the umbrella, but damn, here we go. With this new Tom Hanks-Emma Thompson movie about the making of Mary Poppins coming out, I assume the umbrella will have some type of cultural re-awakening for a bit. Hopefully a few people stumble on this post or these designs in the process, because …. umbrellas …. who knew? I’ve always just groused about wet dog smells in the hallway, but there are people dedicated to this problem. That’s awesome.