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Umbrella shelters

By creating simple fabric panels and interlocking magnetic connections, any standard patio umbrella can be converted into a private shelter.

Photo of Dane Canada
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Written by

Sole ideator. 

Idea Title

Umbrella Shelters

Company / organization name (if applicable)

Dane Canada (individual)

Please include a visual representation of your concept, including but not limited to images, diagrams, or 2D / 3D graphics

See attached.

Solution Overview

The biggest hurdle to mass implementation in a short time is creating anything from scratch. By adapting existing restaurant assets to meet the current challenges, we increase feasibility and adoption rates. In this instance, that means adapting those ubiquitous patio umbrellas with custom interlocking side panels to create private dining shelters for small groups. Suddenly, any outdoor table and umbrella set can become a mini indoor experience.


Any bar or restaurant with existing patio umbrellas would need to order the side panels. The magnetic system would allow them to install them themselves, and adjust them to their needs. The side panels would come in a standard length, but a range of widths to remain flexible for any shaped umbrella (4- or 6-sided, square or round). The hardest part would be partnering with factories to mass-produce the panels in a timely manner.

Technical Overview

The only materials needed would be winter-sturdy fabric and built-in magnets. The fabric would have to be a thick canvas that keeps out the wind and the cold while remaining breathable. Too thin, and the system doesn't work year-round. Too thick or plastic, and the space becomes a moist, muggy hotbox. The canvas that patio umbrellas are typically made from would be nearly ideal. 


The system would be easy to implement for any bar or restuarant with existing umbrellas and patio space. Those are both luxuries not every restaurant has, but they also aren't insurmountable financially if stipends are given. Beyond needing existing assets, the cost of the panels would also affect equal distribution, which again could be solved with stipends and credits from the city.


Beyond this sketch, there is no working prototype. Materials (canvas) would need to be tested against winter conditions, and magnets would need to be tested against sturdiness and usability.

User Research


Covid-19 Safety

By using existing patio tables and umbrellas, people would only be dining with those they come with, know, and trust. A typical group size may range from 2-8. Whatever the city's guidelines for maximum-sized groups,  these umbrella shelters would come nowhere near the max.

Tell us about yourself and your team. What is your background and experience?

I'm an art director and creative director by trade. I'm very versed at coming up with ideas and working with production companies to bring those ideas to life in the realms of film, photography, exhibitions, installations, and experiences. In my free time I build objects and art.

Please describe your legal or organizational structure


In what city are you / your team located?


In what country are you / your team located?

United States

How did you hear about the Challenge?

  • In the news


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