Our umbrella

The story behind the Barnes IP folding umbrella:
one grandfather’s patent becomes a bold print

During an online search for an idea for our company umbrella, our marketing manager, Liz, stumbled across a gorgeous print by US-based graphic designer, Caroline Okun, which she thought would work rather nicely on the underside of a bright umbrella. Having got in touch with Caroline, Liz soon found out the story behind the blueprint design, which we were all rather surprised and delighted to discover!

Barnes IP umbrellaCaroline runs Brains are Pretty – a design firm that provides services for branding, website creation, content curation and design. It turns out that the beautiful umbrella drawings were actually patent drawings that Caroline’s own grandfather, Edward Okun, held, which she had scanned from the patent library at NC State University, where she was a student.

“When I was small, my dad would tell us that Grandpa invented the folding umbrella, as it was his father who had the patents,” explained Caroline. “I studied graphic design at NC State University and there is a patent library there, so I thought I’d look up the details. In fact, the Chinese invented it, but my grandfather had made several improvements to the design – most notably adding hinges – so that in the wind, it wouldn’t break if folded back by a gust.

“I didn’t totally appreciate this about my grandfather when I was younger, since he died when I was only about 12. He came to the US from Russia with nothing, yet had so much initiative and gusto and was quite successful. I had created this umbrella patent design for my dad for Father’s Day, since I thought it would also be a lovely tribute to his own father. I had it printed on mugs for his morning coffee, along with some gift wrap, so it’s lovely to see that it has been appreciated by a patent company as something of great beauty too!”

Love this folding umbrella blueprint design? Have a look here for some other products that use this print.

Umbrella patent

“My grandfather had made several improvements to the design... it’s lovely to see that it has been appreciated by a patent company as something of great beauty too!"

Caroline Okun
Designer and owner, Brains are Pretty

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