Nendo's squidgy Meji cube acts as an umbrella stand

Pushing an umbrella into the top of this small cube by Japanese studio Nendo keeps it held up vertically without the need for additional support (+ slideshow).

Meji umbrella stand by Nendo

The Meji umbrella stand is a silicone-covered resin block with a cross shape cut into its top.

"The design's motif takes inspiration from the joints of a tiled floor," said Nendo. "When an umbrella is set into the grooves, the product becomes an umbrella stand."

Meji umbrella stand by Nendo

Users press the spike of their umbrella into the centre until it is held vertically in place.

The studio, led by designer Oki Sato, wanted to reduce the space taken up by traditional umbrella stands.

Meji umbrella stand by Nendo

"Typical umbrella stands look like either a huge container or a box full of holes, and can't help but seem out of place when not holding any umbrellas," said Nendo, which also recently launched a cube of different-sized sticky notes.

"By using grooves instead of holes, this umbrella stand maintains a simple, clean appearance," it added.

Meji umbrella stand by Nendo

The product is available as an individual cube for single use, or as a longer version that can hold a trio at once. Both come in five colours, including black, white and a light purple-grey shade.

Meji umbrella stand by Nendo

Nendo created the objects for its by|n homeware range, available from Japan's Seibu department stores.

Meji is not necessary for another of Nendo's umbrella designs, which has a two-pronged base that allows it to stand on its own when not in use.

Meji umbrella stand by Nendo

The studio has also created folding umbrella with a cover tucked into its handle, among a spate of accessories that include cone-shaped stackable slippers and a range of flexible polycarbonate reading glasses.