Every year in December, countries all over the world hail the month as the season for Christmas festivities – same goes for us here in Singapore and Malaysia, but we also acknowledge the end-year with another tradition… the inevitable monsoon season!
Why of course, the frequent rains do bring happiness, coming in the form of cooling weather and breezy winds, which makes it feel as if we’re in an entirely different country at times. However, we may have experienced time and time again that our umbrellas simply fail to keep us dry.
Having our portable umbrellas flip up is one thing, but when you have a normal-sized umbrella and you still get half-soaked, the torrential rain just makes us feel cold and downright miserable.
Well, inventors have come to our rescue, with quirky yet creative innovations that are sure to perk up your outdoor thunderstorm experience. In this list, there’s an umbrella for everyone, as each one is designed for different personalities. Some are genius, some artistic, while some are just pure hilarity!
#1 The Sa Umbrella
Touted as an innovative geometric umbrella that reimagines structure, form, and aesthetics, with improved efficiency and recyclability, the Sa is truly a work of art.
Previously featured on Vulcan Post, the origami-like umbrella takes on a unique structure, which eliminates the use of an inner skeleton that most umbrellas use. Adopting a canopy design, it is made with recyclable materials and has an easily repairable unibody. It functions by having the inner and outer canopies expand and contract in unison to open and close the umbrella. Without the extra weight of the usual inner metal skeleton, the umbrella is much lighter. It even sports an internalised handle mechanism and magnetic closure system, which is real sleek!
So, the real question is – how well does it hold up against strong winds and rain? The Sa is specially equipped with a flexible material that bounces back into shape even when exposed to high winds, further enhancing its durability with its reinforced guide panels. While I can’t guarantee your legs won’t get soaked, but at least you can embrace even the strongest winds with this model.
#2 The Rainshader
Have you ever been at a concert when it starts pouring, and everyone around you whips opens their umbrellas, resulting in you getting splashed by mini waterfalls coming from all sides? Well, I certainly have, and I wish I had this umbrella then!
For those who attend outdoor events, the Rainshader is created with the purpose of sheltering you completely, but without the worry of intruding on someone else’s personal space. I think it works great as a privacy function too, since it literally shades oneself from others’ view.
#3 The SENZ Umbrella
Designed by three TU Delft students – Gerwin Hoogendoorn, Philip Hess and Gerard Kool, they sought to address the flaws of generic umbrellas; turning itself inside-out in strong winds, breaking easily, offering poor visibility and having dangerous metal tips.
Carefully calculated to deliver ultimate precision, the SENZ umbrella is able to withstand up to 100km/h of storm winds. Its asymmetrical shape allows them to adapt to the ever changing wind position, making them lightweight. Having an aerodynamic form means that the SENZ umbrella always finds the best position in the wind, resulting in a comfortable experience. The new shape also gives the user better visibility and the specially designed ‘eyesavers’ make it safer for others.
If you want personality, you got it. Their umbrellas come in a variety of contemporary colours and designs, leaving it up to each person to select a model based on their needs. Just like fashion trends, these umbrellas have their own unique style for each changing season. It also comes in several sizes – the SENZ Original, SENZ Mini and the SENZ XL, so depending on your usage, there’ll be a size that will suit you just right. In fact, there’s even a bicycle holder on sale for their umbrellas, so for those who travel to school or work via bikes, this may just be a great factor to look out for.
Fun fact: The SENZ XL won the American International Design Excellence Awards 2008, so this umbrella must really have proven itself well!
#4 The UnBRELLA
If you’re the kind that goes for an unconventional design, here’s one for you. The UnBRELLA – no we didn’t spell that wrong – is an umbrella that defies the look and design of a usual umbrella, thus earning its name; the UnBRELLA.
The creator, Hiroshi Kajimoto, designed it as an upside down, inside out umbrella. Why the exact opposite? The purpose of placing the structure on the outside allows for more head room, which eliminates the potential for tangled hair. When the UnBRELLA is folded closed, the wet surface is facing inside, and the umbrella is able to stand up on its own to dry without the need for any umbrella stand. Pretty cool idea, as this discards the need for plastic umbrella bags, which in turn does its part environmentally. Of course, it’s going to omit the long trails of water that drips off the end of your umbrella too, so you can always stroll into the mall in style.
Due to its innovative design, it’s also purported to be easier to open when coming out of a car or other covered areas. I guess you’ll only know if you’ve used it before, but hey, if this is true, I’ll be happy to bring it along on my bus trips!
#5 The Nubrella
The world’s first hands-free umbrella, identified as a breakthrough in technology, may make you look like bubble boy, but it has proved itself to be very helpful, especially when one needs to answer a call while walking in the rain. In fact, it was created to not only solve first world problems, but to also cater to the need of supplying these to workers who were often outdoors.
Its creator, Alan Kaufman, got the idea for the umbrella after a rainy day in Manhattan back in 2002, where he observed the crowd’s response to the heavy downpour.
The Nubrella, weighing only 1.1kg, is conveniently worn backpack-style, giving it a strong support, resulting in an invertible weather protector. The open front allows for perfect vision and non-interfered communication, but it also functions like a hood, going back and forth as needed, providing the user an extended coverage in front to give him or her the extra protection.
It comes in various styles and models, for different usage purposes, such as wearing it for protection from the sun or while cycling to school. What’s great is that it also comes in smaller sizes for kids, so that’ll be handy too!
#6 The Multi-Unit Superbrella
Now this, my friends, is the definite answer for those who do not want to get the slightest bit wet. With a full-blown umbrella shell pattern that goes all the way to your knees, I don’t see how anything could go wrong. Well, except maybe getting many stares from passersby who are peeved that you’re taking up so much space.
The Superbrella consists of 5 umbrellas, has 4 rainproof holes that allow air to flow through for ventilation, and is fully transparent. Upheld by one vertical stick, the rest of the umbrellas stick out in four cardinal directions. One question I have though… how do you close that thingamajig?
#7 The Air Umbrella
At some point or another, we all wish we had superpowers or ultra cool gadgets like those we see in movies. So how about an umbrella that shelters you with a force field of air? Just imagine – on a rainy day, walking down a busy street, with this gadget in hand, you’re definitely going to leave others gobsmacked!
Developed by a team of designers in China, who worked with postgraduate students from Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, this air umbrella keeps one dry by creating a force field of air that circulates around you. Thus, coining the term; Air Umbrella. It contains a lithium battery, a motor and a fan. Combined together, they work to establish a continuous cycle of air that emerges from the top. Apparently, the air flow is strong enough to consistently deflect rain particles from the user, and is even good enough to shelter two.
If you have concerns about the battery life, just know that there are 3 different models being developed, in varying sizes that will fit 2 separate battery sizes. If you’re caught in a storm though, I hope you’re not in the outdoors for long, because the battery can only hold out for 15 – 30 minutes, depending on the model size. Currently, the Air Umbrella takes about 30 minutes to recharge. I would say it’s safer to bring an extra umbrella with you just in case!
#8 The Ambient Umbrella
There are days where we just feel lazy to bring our umbrellas, wanting to avoid the extra hassle, so sometimes we take a chance… and a storm starts brewing the moment we leave the house.
Maybe you’ll have a better chance when owning the Ambient umbrella. It uses a wireless data-radio technology that is linked up with AccuWeather, where its handle will glow and blink with 4 different patterns to determine if you’ll be experiencing drizzle, rain, thunderstorm or snow. However, if your umbrella starts telling you that it’s going to snow over here in Singapore or Malaysia, it might be time to fix your umbrella.
Other than its weather forecast ability, the canopy of the umbrella uses the patented “GustBuster” design, which is renowned to withstand extremely strong winds without turning inside out. Not bad, you get a 2-in-1 kind of umbrella!
#9 The Rain Shield Umbrella
Look at that splash! True to its name, the Rain Shield is an umbrella that’s built to defend oneself against impromptu car splashes and side rain.
Having an extension on one side and the pole positioned at an angle, its structure is unlike typical umbrellas. Instead of rod and wires, it uses a telescopic rod and single curved steel wire that help to keep the canopy rigid. Because of that, you can be reassured that the side extension will not fail on you. Also, you will never have to worry about potentially poking someone’s eye out, as there are no pointed wire tips.
Rain Shield is the invention of Taiwanese designers Lin Min-Wei and Liu Li-Hsiang. What’s pretty feasible about it is the fact that it can be folded into a 18cm-wide disc after use, which makes it handy equipment on-the-go. The umbrella has also won an award at the Red Dot Award: Design Concept ceremony in Singapore, so maybe we’ll see this promising material around sometime?
#10 The Cloud Umbrella
This last one is honestly just for the laughs, because if you were to bring this out in heavy rain, the strong winds might just blow you away along with your umbrella in hand. Although this surely works fine for light rain and drizzles, I would say the Cloud umbrella is better suited to those who want a different perspective while strolling by the sidewalk, or those who love to stand out amongst the crowd.
The Dutch designer, Joonsoo Kim, wanted to express both lightness and happiness with his design. Made out of a series of spheres that give protection on all sides, it opens up just by pushing and pulling the air drum built into the handles. When it’s not in use, it’ll be folded into stick form. Well, I guess if you like the idea of having a floating cloud above your head, you can put this down on your list of umbrellas to buy!