Nov. 14, 2011 -- Let's face it: Most umbrellas are seriously faulty. They bend, they break, they jam, they poke people in crowds. Hit with an onslaught of wind and rain, they turn inside out. What's more, umbrellas have to be held, leaving only one hand free to carry groceries, keys, a briefcase, coffee -- even a baby or Shih-Tzu -- through rain-soaked streets.
Living in Athens, Leivaditou never had to think very much about rain. It wasn't until she moved to New York City to study advanced architectural design at Columbia University that she realized what heavy rain meant.
"Rainy days put a strain on my movements. I had to hold the umbrella and do other things at the same time," Leivaditou said in an email to ABCNews.com. "Instead of getting frustrated with the physical constraints that my body imposed in such situations, I thought that I should come up with a solution. When I came back to Greece a couple of years later, the idea of inventing a useful tool against rain came back to mind."
Made of waterproof synthetic leather, the Umbrella Coat Raincoat combines an umbrella and a raincoat in one piece of rain gear. Not only does it provide head-to-toe coverage and leave both hands free to carry or do whatever, the Umbrella Coat Raincoat can be adapted to offer varying levels of protection. In a heavy downpour, the full-length raincoat can be converted into an adjustable jumpsuit -- cut low or high in the legs, depending on the level of water in the streets. A clear plastic membrane extends from the umbrella hood to shield the face, while strings keep the hood secure so that it doesn't collapse -- or turn inside out! -- in strong winds.
"The main object of this product design is to serve people's needs," said Leivaditou, a designer who takes practicality to a whole new level.
Her wet weather getup, serviceable to the extent that it looks as if it could be worn by someone who handles radioactive waste, is also weirdly stylish -- the umbrella hood unfolds like stretched bat wings, and at a three-quarter angle resembles a flying disk.
A winner in the Silver A' Design Award and Competition last month, the Umbrella Coat Raincoat is hardly Leivaditou's first attempt at trying to reinvent the ordinary.
She also designed the Life/Desk Convertible to Bed, and yes, it's a desk that turns into a bed: The desktop extends out, the front goes flat and becomes the base for a mattress, while one of the sides slants to become a headboard -- ideal for anyone needing a siesta on the job.
As for the Umbrella Coat Raincoat, it's probably a few holiday seasons away. It's still at the prototype stage as Leivaditou makes and tests different versions. "A variety of patterns and colors can be used, " said Leivaditou, "as long as the fabric is waterproof."