The initial design goal for homefree was as a homeless shelter. No matter what the circumstances a person has a warm, dry place to sleep. We envisioned a jacket made with a front panel in which a light-weight, waterproof fabric is sewn. When opened it can cover the entire body and provide a dry, shaded vestibule for their possessions.

Using 100% of this extraordinary source of what Michael Braungart calls “technical nutrients,” Homefree is completely made from rescued umbrellas found on the streets of New York. After a heavy rain, New York’s sidewalks are strewn with dozens of what look more like crash-landed insects than discarded raingear. The nylon gained from recycled umbrellas is easily cleanable, lightweight, and strong, making it a perfect material for a jacket that will undergo so much wear.

An integral tent, sewn into the rear hatch of the jacket covers the entire body to provide a weather-proof shelter for the wearer. At each corner of the tent are grommets for stakes and cinch straps to give it a form that sheds water using reclaimed umbrella hardware. Closed cell rubber-foam from recycled freight packaging is sewn into the panels of the back hatch to cushion and thermally isolate the body from the cold street. The hood is detachable and double skinned. It can be stuffed with clothing or newspaper to serve as a pillow. Many pockets (large exterior and “secret” interior) were included in the design as storage and safe-keeping.

In addition to providing shelter for the homeless, Homefree is an easily shippable form of disaster relief. Those that are temporarily homeless are assured a warm dry place to sleep. Hikers, climbers and off-trail skiers who are faced with harsh weather conditions have a temporary refuge on their backs.

Awards: Gold medal, Northwest Design Festival 2004