The ubiquity of the three-pin plug in Britain is so great that we've all long been inured to its bulky, obtrusive ugliness. Fortunately for us, design student Min-Kyu Choi remains vexed by the plug, to the extent that he decided to reinvent it. On Tuesday night his efforts were rewarded when he won the Brit Insurance Design of the Year award.
Mr. Choi, a graduate last year from the Royal College of Art, has created a plug that re-aligns the three pins into a vertical strip, allowing it to be folded flat and reducing the size (less than 1cm wide) and resulting in a more elegant object. The lower two pins sit on a hinge, allowing them to be revolved into position when the plug needs to be used. The folded plug still works, and Choi has already designed an ingenious three-way adapter that could mean an end to our favoured quarter-metre long transformers.
The designer says he was inspired by the incongruous way his wafer-thin Macbook Air laptop was powered by a plug so lumpen that it required a separate carry case. Jonathan Ive is presumably at this moment drawing up a contract of employment whilst cursing himself for not coming up with the idea first.
A subtle yet radical change for such a commonplace object willl only work if it gets the support it needs. Reportedly, the plug has had "unparalleled interest" from manufacturers, but making the leap from much-loved prototype to being bundled with electrical goods in every Argos across the country will be a challenge.
All the entrants for the Brit Insurance Design of the Year competition are on display at the Design Museum until October