Retail, Style

Umbra’s Design Innovation

UMBRA-35-Years

I have the Penguin in red, which do you have?

In 1980 a graphic designer by the name of Paul Rowan couldn’t find a nice window shade to hang in his apartment window. So he made one and people liked it. It was then that Rowan teamed up with his childhood friend Les Mandelbaum to create Umbra (Latin for “shade”).

Problem. Innovative solution.

Such has been the circle of design at Umbra ever since. Rowan and Mandelbaum’s mission of bringing intelligent design to everyday items has resulted in some iconic pieces over the years, which were on display for guests at a recent anniversary party held at their Toronto flagship store. In the process they’ve become a global housewares design company and Canadian success story.

The emphasis on design cannot be lost on their customers. Karim Rashid, the flashy and famous industrial designer (and Torontonian), has been a catalyst to many of the signature items including the Garbino Can, his first Umbra collaboration in 1997. It was an instant hit, catapulting both Rashid and Umbra to household names. Today it’s in the permanent collection at the MOMA.

Umbra encourages their designers to rethink everyday objects. Every designer has a byline on Umbra website next to the product they designed. A global company who cares about keeping it real with their people? Now that’s intelligent.