Italian industrial designer Massimo Battaglia goes by Givingshape for his independent line of product design work. We were fans of his "Pratonzolo" desktop organization solution from earlier this year, and his latest design, "Popi," is also worth a gander.
It's essentially an umbrella that folds into its own handle, purportedly solving "all the problems related to foldable umbrellas improving comfort and portability." The advantages are twofold: the handle is larger and more comfortable, and the umbrella doesn't require a separate storage solution since it keeps its own case dry. "Operation is simple: just pull the top cap and pull out the umbrella as if it were a common folding umbrella to close it again just do the reverse."
Curious as to other recent innovations in umbrella design, I ventured on a quick trip through the archives to find a couple notables: Greig Brebner's 'blunt-tip' design and SENZ Designs' wind-proof variation. Interestingly enough, each redesign addresses a different problem, suggesting that there's plenty of room for improvement when it comes to umbrellas.
The designer also notes that the concept is two years old; he's published the images in the interest of finding a manufacturer. Frankly, I can't imagine that Battaglia is the first one to come up with an umbrella with an integrated case—though his design is certainly quite refined—so does anyone out there know of any similar products?