Remarkable People

The Umbrella reinvented: the fully retractable umbrella

The Umbrella reinvented: the fully retractable umbrella
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UPDATED April 26, 2005 Young designer Andy Wana has won the GOLD 2005 Australian Design Award-Dyson Student Award, by reengineering the humble umbrella, creating a significantly different take on the umbrella than anything seen before. Wana’s design overcomes several of the design weaknesses of the traditional umbrella. ‘Lotus 23’ is a fully retractable umbrella, folding into a low profile handle. Built with flexible ribs that flow with the wind, it is more durable than conventional designs allowing it to withstand severe storms, provide increased shade and self clean meaning that it squeezes the water off before you enter a building. It’s also cheaper to manufacture.

‘Lotus 23’ won the 2005 Australian Design Award-Dyson Student Award because judges felt it represented “lateral thinking at its best! This project is an inspiration to all designers to continually question current systems and make things work better.”

Andy’s design won him a coveted Australian Design Award, $7000 from Dyson, automatic entry into Dyson’s international award program; and considerable recognition locally and internationally.

Andy, a graduate of the University of Technology, Sydney said: “Winning the Australian Design Award - Dyson Student Award meant that my design has been recognised as complete, fresh and tangible. It offers a genuine idea, rather than shallow, superfluous possibilities. The award and recognition are definitely welcomed additions for any designer. This field of work is often misunderstood as an exercise on aesthetics, colour and exterior only.

“My main aspiration is to stay true to my profession as a dedicated, innovative and unique product designer. I want to narrate a perpetual story that continually crosses boundaries with each of my work, because design is simply what you see and feel when you close your eyes.”

Speaking of his cleverly named “lotus 23” design, Wana told Gizmag, “It still echoes the shape of a normal umbrella so that people know how to use it intuitively but at the same time it is very robust. It’s made out of really sturdy, durable ABS plastic.

“The cool thing about it is that the canopy retracts all the way inside, right into the body of the umbrella and at the same time it squeezes the water out onto the floor. So if you walk in and out of a building where you don’t want water dripping on the floor and making it slippery or dirty or just wet, then this can get rid of the excess water as you enter the doorway – it’s an age old problem and one which the Lotus 23 solves. Similarly getting into a taxi or a car when it’s raining, for the first time you don’t need to take the water inside with you.

“There’s also no sharp point to potentially hurt people or accidently jab them in the eye.

“If you’re walking in a small pathway and it’s raining and two people with a Lotus 23 come towards each other, you don’t need to struggle around each other. You can just put it halfway down because it retracts like a flower and becomes small and then walk through and it becomes large again.

“Lotus 23 is also double vented so that if the wind comes from the bottom it doesn’t take off like a parachute,” he demonstrates proudly. It’s another of the obvious drawbacks of the traditional design which Wana has overcome on his ingenious Lotus 23.

Summing up? “It’s cheaper to manufacture, stronger, has less parts, … it’s just better really”, he says smiling.

Andy Wana is a name you’re almost certain to hear more of in the future. If you'd like to contact Andy to discuss a potential project, he can be emailed on

The 2005 Australian Design Award-Dyson Student Award ~ Silver was taken out by David Ferrarotto, from Monash University for his ‘Gabrielle – Emergency Hospital Bed’. The Gabrielle is a seat for hospital waiting rooms that folds down into a fully functional hospital bed during emergencies and disasters, when wards are full.

Judges felt that ‘Gabrielle’ was “a timely solution to a worldwide issue. It is clever, simple, commercially viable, and integrates well into current systems. This project is ready to go to market.”

The 2005 Australian Design Award-Dyson Student Award ~ Bronze was awarded to another Monash student, Thomas Marminc for his ‘Syton Mobility Aid’, a new wheel chair design that provides greater mobility and functionality to the user.

Judges said that ‘Syton Mobility Aid’ was “a giant leap forward from traditional wheelchairs in terms of versatility, visual appeal and social acceptance. A fun solution to an age-old stigma.”

A special Highly Commended prize was awarded to Gregory Scott from the University of New South Wales for ‘Yoik’ a fashionable helmet for extreme sports. Judges believed it to be “a good attempt to encourage safety amongst a rebellious target audience, with a great aesthetic appeal”.

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