Folding Plug by Min-Kyu Choi

| 83 comments

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Royal College of Art graduate Min-Kyu Choi has designed a folding version of the standard UK electrical plug. Update 17/03/2010: Folding Plug has won the Brit Insurance Design of the Year award 2010. Update: this project is included in Dezeen Book of Ideas, which is on sale now for £12.

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The folded plug is more suitable for travelling than the bulky standard version.

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Choi has also designed a USB charger version and Multi Flat Plug (below), which allows three devices to share power from one plug that takes up more or less the same amount of space as a standard plug.

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Choi's work is included in Royal College of Art show two, which runs until 5 July (closed 3 July).

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Here's some info from Choi about the plugs followed by full details of the RCA show:

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‘Mac book Air,’ Apple’s latest master-piece, is the world’s thinnest laptop ever. However, here in the U.K, we still use the world’s biggest three-pin plug.

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Most people carry laptops with adapters and plugs because laptop batteries have limitations on the time they can be used. When people carry laptops with U.K plugs in a bag, it always causes problems such as tearing paper, scratching laptop surfaces and, sometimes, it breaks other stuff. The main problem is the UK standard 3-pin plug is not considered in the process of designing for mobility.

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My all intention of the project was directed to make the plug as slim as possible and follow the British Standard regulation at the same time.

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‘Folding Plug’ changes the shape form the normal U.K plug into a 10mm thickness object, solving these damaging problems.

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The ‘Folding Plug’ is also advantageous when people have to travel aboard. People normally carry up to three electronic devices for their long-term journey, such as a mobile phone, a digital camera or an iPod, However, we usually carry only one universal plug. Whilst multi-plug adapters and USB chargers allow us to use one plug socket for many devices, they are still bulky objects.

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The flat properties of my folding plug have inspired the development of a multi-plug adapter that also performs in space-saving ways. By using the folding plug whilst it is folded, ‘Multi Flat Plug’ and ‘USB Charger’ allows for 3 devices to be plugged into the mains, but only inhabiting a little more space than a standard 3-pin UK plug.

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SHOW RCA TWO

Open 26 June – 5 July, 11am – 8pm (closed 3 July; exhibition will close at 5pm on 30 June, 1 July and 5 July). Please note that the TEXTILES section will close for an industry reception at 5.30pm on Monday June 29. Fashion Accessories will therefore also be inaccessible to the public during this event.

The final part of the graduate shows includes work by students from the following courses: Animation, Architecture, Communication Art & Design, Conservation, Critical and Historical Studies, Design Products, Design Interactions, Fashion Footwear and Accessories, History of Design, Industrial Design Engineering, Textiles and Vehicle Design.

Some work will be for sale or commission.

Free admission

Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW7 2EU

Tube: High Street Kensington/South Kensington, Buses: 9, 10, 52, 452


Dezeen Book of Ideas out now!

Min-Kyu Choi is included in our book, Dezeen Book of Ideas. Buy it now for just £12.

| 83 comments

Posted on Monday, June 29th, 2009 at 6:30 am by . See our copyright policy. Before commenting, please read our comments policy.

  • Joe

    Well, that’s one of the best designs I’ve seen in last months. Very nice!

  • sarah

    WOW!!!!!!!!! brilliant!!

  • http://www.jamesthorp.com James

    This does look brilliant, but I’m not convinced it’s a working prototype that complies with regulations – where does the fuse go?

    Could do with seeing an internal shot/diagram. I guess I should get along to the RCA for a closer look…

  • MAX

    same comments for

    “Ultra Lead by Georges Moanack”

    http://www.dezeen.com/2009/07/03/ultra-lead-by-georges-moanack/#comment-290448

    at least we can use it!

  • Martin

    Genius!! Apple will be all over this – I hope they will anyway! Also worth noting that with the mobile phone industry looking at a universal charger solution this could be a great product to be included, in the UK at least. Has a Euro/US version been designed?

    good luck with it!

  • Stanley

    This is absolute GENIUS !!! Well done!

  • Brian

    Min-Kyu

    GRRRREEEAATTT job, from one Industrial Designer to another- you have hit the sweet spot!

    However, for technical realization, you must be careful with the way the electrical wires are articulated and articulate, as it is easy to fray their insulating jackets. This causes fires!

    Great job!

  • daniel

    the fuse is in that cute red circle down the spine of the plug – you can pull it out

    i had the chance to see this first hand with the guy there explaining it to me, he was lovely, and this is such a beautiful and useful little thing

    great great great

  • SJJ

    Martin – ” Has a Euro/US version been designed?”

    I think that was the inspiration – the US plug especially is tiny, and folds in on all apple adapters. The EU plug is hardly troublesome. It is surprising when you move countries a bit how big the accepted UK plug is (partly from the earthing standard that very few other countries have)

  • http://3darchitects.in Manuj Darshan

    Genius. This is indeed very practical.

  • John Martin

    This is one of those “this is so obvious I wonder why nobody thought of it before” ideas. Excellent. Any idea when some manufacturer is going to take it up? You deserve to make a fortune from the patent. 8-)

  • brian c.eng

    A very elegant design

  • Richard

    Did you get funding to take this project further… ? if not are you still interested?

  • Patrick Geneste

    Absolutely brillant! the same principal can be apply with almost all plugs from all over the world.

  • http://blog.jackbliss.co.uk jack

    This is genius! a big name like Apple or Sony needs to pick it up, and we’ll be in business! Reposted at http://blog.jackbliss.co.uk/page.php?p=12. Credited and all that.

  • Anne Schuman

    It looks too good to be true, and might even solve the problem in my kitchen. Never enough sockets.

  • Nils

    WHERE CAN I BUY 50 OF THOSE?

  • Chris Norman

    Where is the fuse?

  • Neville Dalton

    Could do with a picture of the device opened up – to see the wiring and the fuse – and, vitally, if it is a ‘domestic’ replacement item or will be only available as a commercial/industrial plug, ‘hard-wired’ onto appliance leads. Will it meet IEE standards?

  • J R D-Jones

    I have held one of these plugs in my hand: now can I buy shares in his company, please.

  • Laura Maranzana Skeeters

    This is pure genius at work!
    This is the 2010 killer app.
    Well done.

  • Chris

    What plans are there for any production version of these ?
    Where and when are we likley to be able to buy them ?

  • Leon Ko

    Could it complied with the safety standard of BS plug BS1363-1?
    Could it be fitted with a plug fuse with complied with BS1362?

    I am wonder that the thickness of the plug can fulfill the requirement of BS1363-1.

  • charl

    what a cool idea! simple but brings so much convenience for people

  • dan

    good idea, not sure it has mass market appeal

  • Matthew D'Herville

    Love the idea, and want some. I am an Audiovisual technician, and have a kit of bits and pieces. I am always looking at ways to reduce the size and weight of the kit and increase possibilities, so this would be a great compliment to it. I am also from New Zealand, and hate how bulky UK plugs are. I'm not a great advocate for going toward the Shuko/European plugs, as they aren't polarised, and also as ugly in my opinion (grounded ones anyway). The recessed sockets are a dirt trap.
    Are these available to buy?

  • http://www.facebook.com/tomas.wikstrom Tomas Wikström

    He he! The real design problem here is definitely the extremely clumsy form of the standard British plug, as some of you have pointed out. I am deeply impressed by the (almost origami-like) way Min-Kyu Choi transforms this monstrosity to something neat and slim.

  • Mike

    The fact is that as a plug it cannot comply with BS 1363.

    Which is why, no doubt, plugs are not being sold, only wall-warts, which don't have to comply with that standard.

  • Robert C

    What a super idea and product. All we need now is socket manufacturers to fall into line and produce ‘folded’ outlets.

  • manxman1

    Awesome design, well done! Pragmatic and pretty.