Umbrella Organizer
Objective: "Simply Surprising and Surprisingly Simple." Design a simple and functional product that solves specific clutter issue and add value(s) to users.
Individual Project
Duration: 6 Weeks
PROBLEM
Umbrellas are very helpful and smart products used by many people; they protect users from ever-changing weather, and collapse to a convenient size for them to carry. Despite all the benefits, umbrellas become troublesome when it comes to storage:
Umbrellas come in many different sizes to fit a diverse range of users. However, many umbrella organizers in the market do not accommodate different size umbrellas; small umbrellas get lost in a pile while larger umbrellas are often too big to fit into an organizer. Also, umbrella organizers with the ability to store all sizes of umbrellas are often too big and can make the floor wet.
Furthermore, for most of the time, umbrellas are wet after each use. Users usually open and close their umbrellas a few times and leave them open in waterproof environment (garage, bathtub, etc.) until they are completely dry.
IDEATION
Key considerations for the umbrella organizer are:
Space-Efficient, Waterproof, Simple, Flexibility (Small to Large Umbrella) and User-Friendly
CONCEPTS
Concept 1:
The modular buckets stack up to create the umbrella organizer. Each bucket has large and small storage compartments; the larger storage area has an open bottom and the small storage area has a closed bottom with small openings for water to flow out and into the bottom bucket. The bottom bucket holds a plant to absorb all the water that runs off the wet umbrellas.
Concept 2:
There are two levels for this umbrella organizer: a lower front level, and a higher back level. Smaller umbrellas are supported by the lower level, and medium to large umbrellas are supported by the higher level. This way smaller umbrellas will not get lost in the pile of umbrellas and every umbrella will be visible to the user. Similarly to the first concept, the bottom part of the organizer holds plants or soil to absorb the water from the umbrellas.
Concept 3:
The single ring holds different size umbrellas. In contrast to the other two concepts, this concept does not take any floor space and it hangs on the wall. Also, this concept uses a different method to displace water from wet umbrellas—either a squeezing function or self absorbing material could be used.
Concept Refinement
Space efficiency and simplicity are what makes the third concept stand out compared to the first two. The first two concepts are favourable when it comes to manufacturability. However, there is a major design flaw in the first two concepts: they do not add value to users, they add chores. Since weather is unpredictable there will be some days where users have to take care of the plant.
SOLUTION 
UO is a simple umbrella organizer that stores umbrellas well in both wet and dry conditions.
UO has a flexible opening to allow an umbrella to enter and exit when a slight force is applied by the user. The inside of the container is shaped like a funnel to effectively hold different size umbrellas. The cup is also made with self-drying diatomaceous earth, which allows the wet surface to dry within 5 minutes. Furthermore, the rod and lock cap only allow the cup to swing 20 degrees forward, preventing the container from flipping upside down.
FINAL MODEL
This looks like the model is mainly made using high density polyurethane foam (HDPU) and acrylic (PMMA). The template for the acrylic part was designed in Illustrator and was cut using a layer cutter. The HDPU foam was shaped with a machine lathe and drill press, and the acrylic was shaped with a fixture and heat gun. The finished acrylic frame was wrapped with vinyl that looks like brushed aluminum. Since the caps are small and identical, they were 3D-printed with an FDM 3D printer.
If UO is to be manufactured, it will have a variety of design options to match the interior theme of different users. Depending on users’ tastes, the frame can be made of either bamboo, aluminum or different colours of polypropylene, and the cup can be made of different colours of diatomaceous earth.
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