The Lotus 23 Umbrella — A Better Brolly

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(A reminder that entries for our Umbrella Inside-Out Design Comp close on 1 Sept 06.) We like Andy Wanna's thinking. As with most successful product design, he came at the issue from a personal perspective. Umbrellas invariably blow-out, and bend their metal stays. It annoyed him. So he set out to overcome these fundamental design flaws. And at least conceptually, he seems to have got a result. The Lotus 23 brolly (called after its inspirational namesake, and his age at time of design) is similar to Crocs (see recent discussion), in that it is not inherently green — it uses ABS plastic, Tyvek and Teflon — but by other criteria, Andy's umbrella most certainly is. Firstly it works - no materials and embodied energy wasted to make a useless, barely functioning product. And it is functional, the retractable, double vented canopy is asymmetrical, so it covers more of the user, than traditional centre pole brollies. Plus it can be used fully or partially opened. If something just works, you are more likely to value it and treat it well, thus extending its useful life. (Apple Macintosh owners retain their computers much longer than PC owners.) The Lotus 23 is durable, yet attractive. Or as Andy says, ..."I personally believe that a product should age gracefully and build itself a character for us to remember by." It is made with half the number of parts as standard umbrellas, and is designed to be assembled (and disassembled) without need of adhesives or fasteners. It reflects the water shedding qualities of the famous lotus leaf, touching a cap towards biomimicry. And we are pleased to see that others recognised the original effort Andy put into his design. Last year his Lotus 23 Umbrella won the Australian Design Award's Gold Student Award. Read interviews from press and web media, or visit Andy Wanna's website. (it was working the other day, but seems to down, at time of going to pixel - www.andywana.com).

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