How it all started

To the question “why umbrellas?” I have an easy answer and a more compelling reason.

The easy answer, as a consumer, is I have long been frustrated by the limitations of the common patio umbrella with its cumbersome canopies that seem always in the way. Too many times I have carried full serving trays to our family patio, only to have to find somewhere to set them down so I could crank open our large umbrella and access our table - my children wanting to help, but their youth no match for the task.

But I come to the casual furniture industry from the construction industry, as a structural engineer. And as an engineer, these annoyances presented an intriguing challenge as I wondered if others might be as eager as I was to say so long to the frustrations.

The more compelling reason for designing umbrellas relates to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education and its critical role in modern society.

Learning is an iterative process, with simpler concepts and understanding becoming the basis for more complicated concepts and understanding. The challenge to a high-tech society is the more these iterations occur within closed boxes, the less intuitive they become to the casual observer and the more detached we become from the lessons each iteration has to teach. Lose that connection and we quickly lose interest in learning more.

At ARTiculatedshade, we are trying to buck this trend. We’ve capitalized the A, R, and T of our name to draw attention to the artistic side of engineering – that which captivates and tells a story without explanation. Our goal is to inspire imagination by demonstrating how simple twists on age old ideas can have dramatic and beneficial effects and how diverse perspectives lead to innovative solutions.

Ask kids how a cell phone works and they’ll gladly show you which buttons to push. But what have they actually learned? Give them time with an ARTiculatedshade umbrella and our hope is they’ll not only show you how it works, but be well on the way to understanding why it works. They won’t immediately need terms like critical geometry and mechanical advantage, but they will have a basis for understanding the concepts when they do.

- Jennifer M Arndt, PE

 4 year old enthusiast of Northern Colorado's Mini Maker Faire

4 year old enthusiast of Northern Colorado's Mini Maker Faire