Umbrella design

Treehugger and I.D. Magazine are sponsoring a design contest asking for two types of creative approaches to the umbrella problem.

“Umbrellas suffer from design flaws that often lead to their premature and messy deaths and unwelcome burials in landfills,” says Julie Lasky, Editor-in-Chief of I.D. Magazine. One aspect of the Umbrella Inside Out Competitions asks for an umbrella designed with a Cradle to Cradle(R) sensibility. This means that the object’s entire lifecycle is considered, from its sourcing and production, to the life it leads after its current use. “We’re excited to see the alternative designs and applications this competition will inspire,” Lasky adds.

Did you know there was an “umbrella problem”? I didn’t. It rains so rarely around here that umbrellas are more likely to be used for shade. But it gets worse. Apparently, not only do we need to worry about today’s umbrella problem, we have to worry about tomorrow’s umbrella problem too.

Asking for a new umbrella design doesn’t entirely address the problem, however. While conventional manufacturing techniques are still employed, useful destinations for all that umbrella waste are still necessary. The second aspect of the competitions asks for a couture garment constructed from former umbrellas. “With China alone producing upwards of 18 million tons of textiles annually, we’re going to be dealing with waste for generations to come. We need to drive viable, beautiful, and efficient re-use innovation,” says Kyeann Sayer of TreeHugger.

My my my. Who knew? Well, I’ll be sure to do my part to reduce umbrella landfill pollution by promising to never buy one. Last year, I ran across the website of a designer (one of you sent me the link, can’t remember who) who’s made dresses out old umbrellas. It’s called the Umbrella Project. Pretty cool designs she’s come up with too; in fact, it’d definitely fit in with this week’s theme of couture complexity. I’m glad that I finally have a reason to link to her site because, as I said, she’s done an incredible amount of work. Very creative and talented too as you’ll see below.

If you’re interested in entering the umbrella design contest, “winners and finalists will be featured in a three page ID Magazine spread. The winning fashion competition design will appear in the Ethical Fashion Show runway in Paris this October 13”. Deadline for submissions is September 1st.

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  1. Diane says:

    Maybe it’s a suburbia thing. I’ve never owned an umbrella because the distance between the car in the parking lot and the front door isn’t far enough to get the wet t-shirt look. So, unless I suddenly move to Oregon I probably won’t buy one. Maybe a raincoat or trenchcoat would be a good investment. I see the possibility of recycling the spines into boning but the lining would have to breathe because nylon does not.

    This could be a challenge for Project Runway!

  2. ashley says:

    OK, I know I’m late in commenting. But I’m just catching up on the entire blog. And since we’re just a month away from The Annual Rain Festival (Oct 25 – July 15) here in the Pacific Northwest, I am compelled to add my 2.5 cents. To wit:

    If any of you ever do move to Seattle (or Portland or other places in the region) for god sakes, throw away your umbrellas before you get here! Only tourists use them.
    We have much better tools for handling rain on our heads. They are called hats and hoods. An umbrella takes up an entire hand — a pretty inefficient use of a pretty useful part of your body, so far as I’m concerned. (Plus no one gets poked in the eye from a hat or hood. Or at least not too often.)

  3. LizPf says:

    On the other hand, there’s nothing like a huge golf umbrella for walking a high energy 8 year old boy 2/3 mile home from school in the rain.

    Or a 13 year old “I have my own style, and raincoats don’t fit it” girl.

    And the umbrella provides my with some necessary body space in a crowd.

    But i feel ecologically pure … my first golf umbrella was rescued from the trash, and fixed with a couple of self-adhesive nylon patches left over from fixing my husband’s 20 year old down vest.

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