No one knows for sure when the first folding umbrella was designed. However old they are, we’ve been doing them wrong all these years, and these two designer umbrellas prove it.
Now on Kickstarter, the Sa doesn’t have an internal skeleton system to open and close the umbrella; instead it unfolds like a piece of origami paper. Why is this better? The designers claim makes the umbrella lighter and less likely to break in strong wind gusts, because the worst that happens is the umbrella turns inside out. This also lets the Sa to be made with just a single piece of material, allowing the canopy to be easily repaired, recycled, or switched out. Don’t like your umbrella’s design? Just replace it.
The Sa can be preordered starting at $69. Not a shabby price for a changeable umbrella which won’t break as easily as other umbrellas. It’s even been designed to stand on its own. But the Sa has a few issues in common with every other umbrella design: when folded, it’s hard to dry out, and it’s easy to get other people wet.
Not so the Unbrella, which we previously covered on Co.Design here. Invented by Japanese designer Hiroshi Kajimoto, the Unbrella is the same as any standard collapsible umbrella except for one clever reversal–literally. It neatly collapses inside out. So instead of folding your umbrella into a point, you fold it into a little cone. And this has three major advantages.
First, it allows the Unbrella to stand upright by itself without using a hook or umbrella stand. And because the side of the umbrella fabric facing you will always be dry, you won’t get anyone wet if you jump into a bus or train with your Unbrella. The wet side effectively gets folded inside when closed, leaving the outside completely dry. And when you open it back up, the wet side is still facing away from you, though don’t point your umbrella at anyone when you pop it.
Made of polyester fabric stretched over a brass frame, the Unbrella is sold by H Concept in Japan for ¥9,720, or around $92.