Monday, February 18, 2008

New Yorker Article on Steve Hollinger

Fort Point's own Steve Hollinger was featured in an article in the most recent New Yorker, entitled: Thinking in the Rain, An artist takes on the umbrella

Susan Orlean
The New Yorker
February 11, 2008 Issue


ANNALS OF INVENTION about Steve Hollinger’s attempt to design, patent, and manufacture a new kind of umbrella. For several years, the writer lived in an apartment above Hollinger’s in the Fort Point Channel neighborhood of Boston. One day last year, Hollinger, a sculptor and inventor, walked around the neighborhood carrying another one of his surprises, a reimagined, reinvented umbrella, with gutters and airfoils and the elegant drift of a bird’s wing. Discusses Hollinger’s creation of the PosterWorks software program during the nineteen eighties. Briefly mentions some of his other inventions, including a system for animating three-dimensional objects, and a program for micro-printing. Hollinger’s umbrella project was set in motion in November of 2004, on a wet day in Boston. The futility and anguish of humankind’s relationship with the umbrellas stuck in Hollinger’s mind. Tells about the history of umbrellas and parasols, which date back to 1000 B.C. The United States Patent Office, which groups umbrellas with tents, crutches, canes, and walkers, has more than three thousand active patents on umbrella-related inventions. And still umbrellas are seriously flawed. They drip, they flip inside out, they snap in half, they poke bystanders in the eye. Tells about an umbrella-design contest sponsored by I.D. magazine, the Treehugger Web site, and the Sustainable Style Foundation. The rewards for whoever improves the umbrella are substantial. The annual retail market in the United States alone is now three hundred and forty-eight million dollars. Describes the Hollinger Improved Umbrella: it is teardrop-shaped, has a rounded nose and a short tail. Because it is elongated, it shields the user’s legs from rain. The umbrella looks like a cross between a bike helmet and a fisherman’s hat. Tells about Hollinger’s study of textiles and aerodynamics while working on the umbrella. Mentions that Hollinger has recently finished a screenplay called “The Ruby and the Prism” about an inventor. Hollinger contacted Totes and Tumi, who declined to pursue his design. Hands On Toys (HOT), however, agreed to license the umbrella. Writer describes a meeting attended by Hollinger and Rustam Booz and Andrew Farrar of HOT during which they considered names for the umbrella, including “Forewind” and “Bella Brella.” The following week, Hollinger shows the writer a prototype of the umbrella manufactured at a factory in China. Briefly mentions Hollinger’s idea for a new tent design.

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