Prototype umbrella, silk / metal, designed and made by Slawa Horowitz, Vienna, Austria, 1928
This compact foldable umbrella is a prototype designed and made by Slawa Horowitz in Vienna in 1928. Slawa Horowitz was a student studying sculpture at the Akademie der Bildenden Kunste Wien (Academy of Visual Arts) when she decided to develop a more practical umbrella. The prototype was made by Slawa using existing and modified umbrella parts obtained from Viennese manufacturers and other sources. Slawa spent many months developing the umbrella in secret before she applied for and received a patent on 19 September 1929. Many more months were spent marketing the umbrella which was finally contracted to "Basch und Braun" who organised its manufacture by the Austrian company "Bruder Wuster" and their German associates "Kortenbrach und Rauh".The umbrella was called "Flirt" and in the first year of production sales reached 10,000.
Umbrellas were used in ancient China, Egypt and India. They were first designed as shade against the sun and were associated with rank and religion. Depictions and descriptions of umbrellas appeared in Europe in the late 1600s but it was wasn't until the second half of the 1700s that the umbrella became popular as protection from the rain. Perhaps more than any other costume accessory, the umbrella has attracted the imagination of the inventor. Throughout the 1800s and early 1900s the umbrella was subject to improvement and innovation. The improvement of the "Flirt" was outlined in its patent documentation which noted that although foldable umbrellas with telescopic sticks were not new, the inventor's umbrella was a significant improvement as it was smaller and more practical as the folding mechanism had been considerably simplified.
Slawa was paid royalties till 1938. She and her husband, the sculptor Karl Duldig, left Vienna in the same year and fled to Switzerland. In 1939 she sold her rights to the company "Bruder Wuster". The Duldigs eventually arrived in Australia via Singapore in 1940. The Duldigs established themselves as successful and influential artists and teachers in Melbourne. Their daughter Eva de Jong-Duldig has established The Duldig Studio in the family home in the Melbourne suburb of East Malvern to commemorate her parent's many achievements. This award winning museum authentically displays paintings, drawings, sculptures and decorative arts that reflect the artist's history both in Europe and Australia. The Studio's collection includes three other hand built prototypes of the umbrella as well as original related documents, photographs and other archival material.
Designed by Slawa Horowitz in Vienna in 1928. Slawa Horowitz was born in Poland in the early 1900s and died in Australia in 1975.
The umbrella was hand built by the designer using existing and modified umbrella parts purchased from manufacturers and other sources. After the design was granted a patent, the largest Austrian umbrella manufacture "Bruder Wuster" together with their German associates "Kortenbrach und Rach" manufactured the umbrella which was called 'Flirt'. In the first year of production sales reached 10,000. This number increased steadily each year as sales spread throughout Europe and was still being produced and marketed in the 1960s.
The umbrella is one of four hand built prototypes that were used to market and patent the design. The umbrella was inherited by the designer's daughter Eva de Jong-Duldig.