You don’t have to live in Seattle to know that a good umbrella is hard to find. In fact, of the more than 33 million sold in the U.S. every year, hundreds of thousands end up broken, abandoned and in a landfill somewhere. I’ve often wondered, as my own ragged umbrella turned inside-out carrying me away with the wet wind, why someone hasn’t come up with a better, more sustainable design.

One such design, the Lotus 23 created by Andy Wana, won an Australian Design competition in 2005. It is sturdy, durable and attractive, opening like a blooming flower – he named it after the lotus flower or water lily. The canopy is vented to prevent blow-outs and while it isn’t made of recycled materials – ABS plastic, Tyvek and Teflon – it is still considered green because of its smart design in the areas of safety, durability and function.

This umbrella is inexpensive to make – having half as many parts as a standard umbrella – as well as easy to assemble and take apart. Use it fully or partially opened (good for sidewalk rush hour). The pole is off-center, providing superior coverage from the rain.

Even in frequently sunny California, a woman needs an umbrella she can count on! This is the challenge of today’s young product designers, and we can only hope their innovative solutions eventually become a reality in our daily lives.

Image: Andy Wana

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