A Brief History of the Market Umbrella

Posted by Jonathan Blampied on 21-Jul-2021 09:28:50

The market umbrella has a long regal history.

We are proud proponents of the umbrella, it's heritage and its future in the world.

Since man has ventured out into the sun, we've looked for shade to protect us from the UV radiation, heat and damage.

The Latin word for "Shadow" is "Umbra" forming the etymological root of umbrella which answers the age-old question: What came first? The rain umbrella or the shade umbrella?

The shade, it was the shade umbrella. 

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Market Umbrella Origin Story

The umbrella concept can't be traced back to any single origin point, but the precursor can be found in ancient civilisations from Egypt right through to China. The original market umbrellas were made from sticks, trees and palm fronds. The development path is quite linear and makes sense.

Trees are nature's umbrella with one small caveat, tree aren't portable. For early people to move out from where trees chose to grow was to develop shade structures that could be moved and set up at the beginning and end of each day. The luxury of a portable tree wasn't lost on those early adopters of the parasol. Umbrellas became a preeminent symbol of wealth, status and luxury. A stand against the sun and all its strength. 

The umbrella in all its forms is seen throughout historical records such as paintings, vases and mosaics associated with the rulers and leaders of people who, with their wealth and influence could afford to have such a symbol of health, wellbeing and protection at their whim. Control of the elements was the ultimate power. 

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The Impact of the Agricultural Revolution

At this point in the history of the market umbrella, commerce was thriving and an urban shift of early populations was starting. Farmers would bring their wares to city centres to sell to the populations who had moved on from sustenance farming as farming technology had progressed to the point where less human energy was required to feed the populations. 

These bustling markets start to bulge at the seams forcing vendors to start peddling their wares outdoors - in the sun. This growth in enterprise accelerated the uptake of shade structures and the adoption of the market umbrella, outside the markets, to protect the farmers and their crops.  

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The Processes of the Industrial Revolution

Market Umbrellas served their purpose for much of the history and didn't see another innovation until closer to the industrial revolution. As manufacturing processes improved and people could focus more in developing enhancements and quality-of-life features the umbrella as we know it now started to develop. 

The innovations that came out of this period include retractable canopies, designed to protect umbrellas from the wind and weather, a differentiation between octagonal and square umbrellas and then a shift from wood-based frames to aluminium structures. 

Market umbrellas proliferated out across the world after these strong innovations and development has been more focused on slight improvements on usability and strength to stand up to modern standards of product design and quality. Further working on protecting the market umbrella against its natural predator; the wind. In the 21st century and the smart tech boom we are starting to see another ramp up of umbrella innovation in the form of smart lights, integrated tech and other great innovations to allow umbrellas to sit as luxury status symbols above the rest. 

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The Future of the Market Umbrella

The market umbrella has a long-storied history of nobility, opulence and value. Humans have sought refuge from the sun and will continue to value the protection it affords us for as long as we enjoy time outdoors. People have known that umbrellas are the best shade product since those early days of portable trees all the way through to today and the easy-to-use Premium market umbrellas you can acquire from luxury brands. 

 

 

Topics: Shade systems, Outdoor Shade, Patio Umbrella

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