There is no need to re-invent the wheel. We all know that.
But re-invent umbrella?
Why not? Think out of the box. And that’s exactly what the three friends Gerwin, Gerard and Philip did during their student days at the TU Delft University.
Familiar with the rain in the Netherlands and the gale winds that come with it? And how then umbrella starts acting up -going inside out, twisting, breaking, etc. When during a rainy week like that Gerwin Hoogendorn, industrial design engineering student, had to bury three umbrellas, he got so fed up that he decided to design the ultimate umbrella and make it his graduation project.
His friend just laughed at him.
Umbrella? What’s sexy about an umbrella? It is so utterly boring.
Well, Gerwin stuck with his idea and let the friends have fun until they turned round won over by his unabashed enthusiasm and steely determination. Certainly much needed for the design of the Ultimate Storm Resistant Umbrella.
The first prototype was made on Gerwin’s grandma sewing machine and then as Philip Hess, the marketing brain of the team, 31, recalls: “Green as grass and with absolutely no entrepreneurial experience, we rented a tiny little office space and started our company. We named it senz°, we wanted our new line of umbrellas to make sense, unlike all traditional umbrellas on the market”.
What follows then is a runaway success. Launched in 2006 Senz umbrella collects a handful of prestigious international prizes and in 2007 it is named one of the best inventions of the year by the Time magazine.
Today Senz umbrellas are sold in some 50 countries the world over in Europe, North America, Asia with the Netherlands and Japan as the biggest markets.
The energetic trio behind the brand is unrelenting and keeps churning new ideas. End of the month they launch a new line geared to the fashion conscious. It is called Senz smart consisting of two styles, foldable, smaller size umbrellas and bigger ones in a variety of trendy prints and colours – cosmic silver, bubbly rose, sunset red, baby blue. In The Hague it will be available in de Bijenkorf and many other stores.
I like the unconventional shape of Senz umbrellas and certainly its wind resistant qualities. Tested before my eyes by an impressive wind generating turbine. But more so I was charmed by the unassuming young men who dared to dream big and pursue their vision as insignificant as it seemed to outsiders then.
Umbrellas do make people dream .