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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Fashion Accessories Coming Soon

Bluewater Grill, Union Square

Photo by myself at the Bluewater Grill in Union Square, around Broadway and 16th Sreet.

I rarely carry an umbrella. First, carrying one requires planning and knowing what the weather will be. Second, I'm overladen with other crap - purse, wallet, keys, cellphone, camera, gum, Airborne, New Yorker Magazine.

My habits may soon change. This Spring, we'll be seeing a new umbrella on the streets. In last week's New Yorker, Susan Orlean, author of The Orchid Thief, wrote an article about the Boston sculptor Steven Hollinger. His new umbrella design is modeled after the aerodynamic shape of a bicyclist's helmet.

Rounded on the front end to deflect wind, the umbrella tapers at the back. It has gutters. It's narrower than it is long, so that people can walk the sidewalks without bumping into each other. Hollinger's prototype was made of shiny black fabric on the outside and a bright red fabric on the inside, to make the user feel cozy (!).

Just imagine the ramifications. No more crumpled metal skeletons along the streets after a rainstorm. No more hawkers selling cheapo umbrellas for three bucks. No more heaps of anonymous black nylon at the doorways of restaurants and galleries.

I'm skeptical but curious. The image of New Yorkers waiting on a street corner for the light to change, huddled and glum beneath their flimsy umbrellas while traffic hurls by will soon be history. Hard to believe.

I'm sure there will be a few hold-outs at first, carrying their antiquated three dollar nylon umbrellas. And there will be those of us who carry nothing at all.

Top photo by myself at the Blue Water Grill, in Union Square. The jazz club Metropolis used to occupy the downstairs. Metropolis is no longer, but the restaurant features live jazz in its lower dining room.

Lower photo showing the rounded end of the new umbrella design, from Steve Hollinger's website.


penpusher said...

I need to get my hands on that umbrella!

It's so windy over here in Melbourne that when it does rain, nobody bothers to carry an umbrella because the wind will just blow it inside out :(

Fredrik said...

Great design. Personally I rarely use an umbrella because it's usually too windy here. This design might work...Or else there's always the nice sou'western hat. Not the most trendy, but very effective! (http://images.jupiterimages.com/common/detail/69/49/22244969.jpg)

Kitty said...

PP, I know the feeling. There is nothing so humiliating as standing in public with a thing flapping in and out!

Fredrik, I love seeing people attack a well-known object with innovation. Love the image, haha!

Reluctant Blogger said...

It's about time designers revisited some of the old trusty items like umbrellas. It looks good although I am not much into carrying things. I need one of those that fix to my head.

Frans Beekman said...

I'm not sure what this umbrella actually looks like because I only found partial images. The description (especially the part where you refer to the shape of a bicyclist's helmet) reminded me of an article I read some time ago about students of Delft University (Holland) who won an international design award. I think it was last year. Check http://zakelijk.infonu.nl/diversen/4874-de-senz-paraplu-een-innovatieve-succesvolle-paraplu.html

You'll be amazed at the resemblance.

Carrie Smith said...

Stopping by to say hello!

enjoy your day

fishwithoutbicycle said...

As a Brit, used to sporadic rain showers, I feel incomplete without an umbrella :-)

Olivier said...

on attend de te voir avec ce nouveau parapluie ;o)

We wait to see you with this new umbrella ;o)

BrianC said...

I'm hopeful but skeptical, believing that even the best-designed umbrella will ultimately succumb to those blasts of wind that tear up the avenues or buffet those of us who live near the river on the west side. For now I'll hold on to my cheapie Totes umbrella and rely on my Barbour jacket.

A Red Mind in a Blue State said...

Let's hope it works--tho I think the big problem will be that aerodynamic works when you are heading into the wind--but what if it hits you from the side? Or the back? Or does a NYC swirl-around?

Maybe they can design one out of recycled HD-DVD's?

Tammy said...

I don't use an umbrella either. I'm too busy trying to keep my son out of puddles. LOL

Spandrel Studios said...

How did I miss this article?! Susan Orlean is one of my favorite writers! Plus, I'm not embarrassed to admit, I carry an umbrella nearly every day. Getting rained-on is a major pet peeve.

The details in your photo are amazing - I'd spend the entire meal just staring at that ceiling.

Kitty said...

I can't wait to see what the whole thing looks like. A link on Hollinger's portfolio site leads you to a very technical description, for the patent.

Also in the New Yorker article was the statistic of how many umbrella designs the patent office receives every year. They have 4 people working full time reviewing patent applications for umbrellas alone.

so..who knows? Perhaps this design is truly novel, though it does look like a more subtle version of the Delft design.

We can all put it to the test!

Mama Mayborne... said...

Love the photo. Thanks for the umbrella info, but right now all I can think about is snow!

respiratory system diseases said...

I always leave the forgotten umbrella.
I can not go hehe