Slawa built the umbrella using existing and modified umbrella parts purchased from manufacturers and other sources with the idea to develop a more practical umbrella. At the time Slawa was a student studying sculpture at the Akademie der Bildenden Kunste Wien (Academy of Visual Arts). She spent many months developing the prototypes in secret before she applied for and received a patent on 19 September 1929. The patent documentation for Flirt noted that although foldable umbrellas with telescopic shafts were not new, the inventor's umbrella was a significant improvement as it was smaller and more practical as the folding mechanism had been considerably simplified. The umbrella was included in the Inventors’ pavilion at the Vienna Spring Fair in 1931. In a contemporary newspaper report it was described as ‘the magic umbrella of the sculptress’.
After the design was granted a patent, it was contracted to the firm Basch and Braun, which authorized its manufacture under licence by the largest Austrian umbrella manufacturer in Austria Bruder Wuster and a German firm Kortenbrach und Rauh. It was called Flirt. In the first year of production sales reached 10,000. This number increased steadily each year as sales spread throughout Europe and the Flirt umbrella was still being produced in the post-war period. Slawa was paid royalties till 1938, the year that she left Vienna and fled to Switzerland. In 1939 with pressure from the Nazis she sold her rights to the company Bruder Wuster.
Ann Carew 2016
The umbrella prototypes have national and international aesthetic significance as examples of technological innovation in industrial design. The archive has national and international scientific and research potential – detailed records concerning the development of the design, patent and its manufacture are held in the studio. The archive demonstrates the links between the realms of fine art, industrial design and manufacturing in Vienna in the early twentieth century. The sale of Slawa Horowitz-Duldig’s rights to the umbrella under duress from the Nazis makes this archive historically significant. The provenance is excellent, and the prototypes and accompanying documentation have national and international interpretative potential.
Ann Carew 2016
Three handmade compact foldable umbrella prototypes. The prototypes have black silk covers, a metal shaft, handle, ribs and ferrule. The shaft has a telescopic mechanism. The top and the end of the handle are metal disks.
The related documents, designs, patent documentation, a hand written record of her inspiration for the design, and other archival material are also held in the Studio’s Collection.