There’s a longstanding quip that true Seattleites never carry umbrellas, despite the city’s reputation for rain. Some people are staunch upholders, using everything from hoods to newspapers to keep themselves dry, while others keep an umbrella in every conceivable nook and cranny—their workbag, the car, a desk drawer at the office. For Jason Sullivan, Price Eberts, and Clara Mulligan—the founders of the Certain Standard umbrella company, which recently launched a collaboration with Seattle arts collective Electric Coffin—the idea that people in the PNW are umbrella adverse is, well, an umbrella statement.
“We laugh when we hear it,” Sullivan says of the stereotype. “It just isn’t true. It’s one of those myths that has taken on a life of its own. Kind of like everyone in LA carries a headshot and everyone in NYC is rude. And even if there was an inkling of truth to it in the past, we certainly don’t see it, as Seattle is a great market for us. Maybe it’s because the influx of people to the city have brought about a welcome change in style and fashion. Or maybe it’s because there wasn’t an umbrella worth carrying…until now.”
Certain Standard launched three years ago as an accessories company looking to provide a fashionable alternative to the boring, black rain stoppers its founders saw traversing the Seattle sidewalks with every downpour. The umbrellas it offered featured bold colors and sophisticated patterns that proved to be popular style statements on an international scale.
Over the summer, the company launched its Certain Standard Artist Series with a geometric pattern by Brooklyn-based Scott Albrecht, and last week, it released the second collaboration in the series—this time from Electric Coffin. Known for its in-your-face aesthetic, punk and pop culture references, and saturated, bright color schemes, the art-and-design studio has designed restaurants, installations, exhibitions, art pieces and more for museums, companies, and institutions around the world.
“We’ve been fans of Electric Coffin for years,” Sullivan notes. “They’re a true creative powerhouse whose work is as original as it is influential. They use art to tell stories and that’s a big part of why people have such a visceral reaction to it. There’s humility to their work that we just love.”
For its umbrella design, Electric Coffin opted for individual sections of gray-and-black (each with a different pattern inspired by the EC studio)—one section has a slice of bright yellow at its base. It’s a less colorful statement than much of the group’s work, but the muted tones put the emphasis squarely on the graphics.
“We pulled from the surfaces of the studio,” Electric Coffin wrote in an email. “We’ve used the same tables and benches throughout years. Looking at the patina of projects that are left behind creates beautiful relics of unintended compositions of color and pattern.” When asked about the tame tones, the group explained that, “personally, we would almost always choose black for an article of clothing or accessory. It’s more usable on a day-to-day basis. We liked the idea of this object being a workhorse made for the cold, wet Seattle drizzle, but still artful and interesting.”
Learn more about the collaboration and purchase the umbrella here.