If you carry an umbrella, have Venetian blinds on your windows or have ever sat in a deck chair, you've visited the land of objects that are Collapsible (Chronicle, 232 pages, $24.95 paper).
Danish designer Per Mollerup celebrates The Genius of Space-Saving Design (the book's subtitle) through text and 530 illustrations of items, past and present, that are foldable, expandable, retractable, inflatable, stackable or, yes, collapsible.
Among the earliest collapsibles is a camp bed more than 3,000 years old. Found in King Tut's tomb, the bed has copper hinges that allow it to be folded into thirds.
Of more recent vintage are folding scissors, maps, picket knives, tables and chairs, including those deck chairs that sometimes collapse when you re in them.
Some chair and tables are designed to be stackable, as are glasses and cups. And some cups are collapsible, making them easy to carry in pocket or purse.
Collapsible, too, are some things with wheels: bicycles, scooters, shopping carts, baby strollers and wheelchairs.
Inflatable rafts, mattresses, chairs and sofas are blown up. Things that pop up include books with 3-D graphics that fold and unfold as the pages are turned.
And don't forget the Optic Wonder.
This Italian-made optic equivalent of the pocket knife contains telescope, binoculars, compass, signal mirror, magnifying glass and stereoscopic viewer.
Amazingly, it folds to the size of a bar of soap. Chicago Tribune
The Venus flytrap, the peacock and the snail all practice the same strategy of survival. They adjust their size to meet a practical need. They're collapsible.
They're also examples of hinging, fanning and expansion - three of the twelve mechanical principles of man-made collapsible objects. True collapsible designs function in both active and passive states and can change repeatedly.
The ingenuity of man-made collapsibles is confirmed by Per Mollerup, internationally-known Danish designer and director of Mollrup Designlab in Copenhagen. He has compiled hundreds of objects chosen for their deisgn brilliance into an album produced to inspire creativity.
Like Dutch inventors G.H. and A.J. Vlutters, whose multistory building chute was inspired by stacking Dixie Cups, Mollerup hopes that viewing the pure originality from some of these objects will give birth to new invention.
Collapsible is an entertaining collection of ideas. Referring to the mechanics of size expansion in nature, Mollerup writes, "Size adjustment to meet functional requirements is a time-honoured principle in nature, too, as all real men and their happy mates will confirm."
His "real men" reference is curious, but Mollerup is frisky. His captions reflect a delight in these very clever, highly functional industrial designs that sometimes evoke a smile, like the body armor that collapses to become a metal belt of the fine Panama hat that will roll small enough to pass through a wedding ring.
Collapsible covers the concept, methods and applications of a significant design principle used in our daily life. Along with fun facts and history, it is of special interest to view oddities like the knapsack that unfolds to become a chair or the collapsible shower cubicle. Their unusual designs have the same purpose of all collapsibles; the economy of space and the economy of transportation. -Communication Arts