RCA student radically improves the UK plug 01.07.09

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The show-stopper at this year's Royal College of Art graduate show was a plug. About time someone tackled the UK's clunky electrics

The Royal College of Art's graduate show has opened, and this year, the show-stopper was a plug. Min-Kyu Choi impressed every passer by with his neat, apparently market-ready plug that folds down to the width of an Apple MacBook Air. "The MacBook Air is the world's thinnest laptop ever. However, here in the UK, we still use the world's biggest three-pin plug," says Choi.

Choi's plug is just 10mm wide when it is folded. To unfold it, the two live pins swivel 90 degrees, and the plastic surround folds back around the pins so the face of the plug looks the same as a standard UK plug. The idea produced a spin off, too. Choi created a multi-plug adaptor, a compact standard plug sized unit with space for three folded plugs to slot in, as well as one that charges USB devices.

It's so plausible and so obvious a product that it should produce a few red faces; how many more years were we going to attach our palm sized mobiles and wafer thin laptops to an object that's barely been touched since its first design in 1946? Choi picked an everyday product that most other designers find too mundane to dabble with and drastically improved it - exactly the kind of thinking that we should be celebrating right now.




Anna Bates



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  • Comment Link Rowan Collins Friday, 25 September 2015 16:01 posted by Rowan Collins

    This article is bizarrely out of date, and lacking in detail.

    The graduate show in question was in 2009, and a commercial version of the plug was produced in 2012.

    And for those wondering, yes, the designer thoroughly researched the relevant British Standards and documented the prototype's compliance as part of the original project.

  • Comment Link blablabla arent folk thick at times Friday, 25 September 2015 12:05 posted by blablabla arent folk thick at times

    ian bell.... designers design.
    barry young... we aleady have adapters galore.
    that alistair ... there is only one live
    larry bennett... are you sure there is no fuse? fuses are no guarantee that your house wont burn down. firs often occur behind the sockets when the main wire melts due to overloading a socket

  • Comment Link Bob Friday, 25 September 2015 11:57 posted by Bob

    The fuse is probably where the red blob is....

  • Comment Link Nigel Friday, 25 September 2015 11:53 posted by Nigel

    Quote: "There's a reason electrical fittings are designed by engineers, not artists. No consideration at all seems to have been given to safety, only aesthetics." Precisely. The UK 13A plug/socket arrangement may look old-fashioned, but in comparison with equivalents used elsewhere in the world, they're a damned sight safer.

  • Comment Link Pablo Friday, 25 September 2015 11:42 posted by Pablo

    Does every plug in UK have its own fuse? In Germany the fuse is centralized and secures the cable. So if 3 plugs in one sockets take to much power the fuse will stop it. -> no hazard

    The plug can be inserted to the socket with unfolded shields, that seems to be right. But if you take a look, the power pins are only made of metal at the end. before they get contact in the socket the complete metal part will be hidden by the socket. The only pin made completely of metal is the ground pin. -> no hazard

    This IS a genius design.

  • Comment Link nickgrim Friday, 25 September 2015 11:34 posted by nickgrim

    One of these, then:

  • Comment Link Badger Friday, 25 September 2015 11:19 posted by Badger

    It doesn't meet standards as it stands, no, but it could probably fairly easily be re-engineered to do so without losing the original aesthetic. (I speak as an electrical engineer.)

  • Comment Link Ben Friday, 25 September 2015 11:10 posted by Ben

    This is 6 years old. It's from the 2009 grad show.
    I guess time has shown it hasn't really caught on.

  • Comment Link Kieron Friday, 25 September 2015 10:11 posted by Kieron

    All the people wondering "where is the fuse?" did you even look at it?

    What do you think the circular (oooh about the width of a fuse) red bit is at the bottom?!?!

    How do people engage typing before their brains so easily?!

  • Comment Link ScottT Friday, 25 September 2015 10:03 posted by ScottT

    To all those posting about BS standards and technical details.....when this graduate's CV lands on the desk at Philips, Sony, Apple, Samsung.....what do you reckon they'll say....it doesn't conform to BS1363...lol. Brilliant bit of creative thinking. Who cares if it actually works or not right now, it is a great idea that COULD be developed into something that does conform and work. Love it.


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