Sublimely utilitarian: H.Due.O umbrella

The objective:

This is the fifth in a series of posts showcasing the sublimely utilitarian. To qualify, a product must understand and address its purpose perfectly, must comprise nothing that isn’t essential. But it must also go beyond the expected – it must suprise, pleasure and delight. It must respond to this great saying: “Only do something if it is necessary, but if it is necessary, do it beautifully.”

The product:

The Churchill 2 umbrella by Italian company H.Due.O.

Its qualifications:

  1. It is small enough to fit in a satchel but large enough to cover two people and possess the robustness necessary in an umbrella.
  2. It is available in a small selection of dark, solid colours. Ours is grey.
  3. Its hooked handle is easy to carry, both in the hand when in use and over the arm when collapsed, and has a pleasurable softness to the touch. We are noticing this latter quality in more and more products as plastics technology gains greater sophistication (see Joseph Joseph utensils discussed in a previous post, here), and is one we particularly appreciate.
  4. The spokes of the umbrella head are flexible, reducing the likelihood of impact damage from other people, umbrellas and buildings.
  5. The spring-loaded mechanism that enables an automatic opening has been cleverly used to facilitate automatic closing also.

Our verdict:

Whilst H.Due.O oddly produces some umbrellas with garish and fairly unattractive graphics on them, the Churchill umbrella, together with other similarly austere options, is a winner. It is a compact, robustly-built umbrella whose automatic open and close is a delight. Its only weakness is the internal mechanism which unfortunately broke within six months of purchase. However, to the company’s eternal credit, they replaced the umbrella for us free of charge, no questions asked.

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