Folding plug concept wins 2010 Brit Insurance Awards

Min-Kyu Choi’s folding plug design has won the Brit Insurance Design of the Year 2010 award.

Choi, who graduated from the Royal College of Art’s design products MA last year, says the folding plug design was inspired by the development of Apple’s ultra-thin MacBook Air laptop, and the contrast with the clunky nature of British three-pin plugs.

He says, ’My intention… was directed to make the plug as slim as possible and follow the British Standards regulation at the same time.’ Choi says he aims to bring the plug to market later this year.

Artist Antony Gormley, chairman of the judges, says, ’Thought-through, responsive and modest, the folding plug shows how intelligent, elegant and inventive design can make a difference to everyone’s life.’

The folding plug’s victory marks the return of the award to the product category, following last year’s decision to award the prize to Shepard Fairey’s Barack Obama poster. The 2008 victor was Yves Béhar’s One Laptop Per Child project.

Choi’s winning design was selected from seven category winners – narrowed down from more than 90 nominees from around the world. All the shortlisted designs will be shown at an exhibition at London’s Design Museum until 31 October.

Deyan Sudjic, director of the Design Museum, says, ’This is the year the Brit Insurance Awards reached maturity.’ He points to increased interest from the BBC – including The Culture Show’s coverage of the category winners and preview of the exhibition.

The unveiling of the category winners on 5 March also attracted a good deal of national press attention – much of it due to Alexander McQueen’s posthumous win in the fashion category, for his spring and summer 2010 collection.

Sudjic says that this year the exhibition curators have aimed to emphasise the cross-category connections between the entries, ’grouping them together to tell stories’. Two of the major themes that come through in the entries this year, Sudjic adds, are sustainability and designing with a social conscience.

Morag Myerscough, founder of Studio Myerscough and member of the award judging panel – alongside Tom Dixon, Icon editor Justin McGuirk, Grazia style editor Paula Reed, Wired editor David Rowan and broadcaster Janet Street-Porter – also picks up on the sustainability trend. She adds that another theme she noted was ’the interaction between low-tech and hi-tech’ – pointing to projects such as the Young Creative Network’s lending library, which sat in the interactive category alongside innovations such as Amazon’s Kindle 2 wireless reading device.

Myerscough says the decision to choose the folding plug as the overall winner was ’a close call’, but added, ’In the end I think it was the one that all the judges reacted to very strongly separately when they were walking around the exhibition.’

Sudjic says, ’It’s amazing how everyone who sees the plug just goes, “wow”. It takes a very clunky British design and turns it into something that works very well, while remaining very unflashy.’

Category winners

Architecture – Monterrey housing, Mexico, by Elemental, Chile

Fashion – Alexander McQueen spring/summer 2010 catwalk presentation, Plato’s Atlantis

Furniture – Grassworks, the Netherlands, designed by Jair Straschnow

Graphics – The Newspaper Club, UK, by Ben Terrett, Russell Davies and Ton Taylor, supported by 4iP

Interactive – The Eye Writer, US, developed by members of Free Art and Technology, Open Frameworks, Graffiti Research Lab, The Ebeling Group and Tony Quan

Product – Folding plug, UK, by Min-Kyu Choi

Transport – E430 Electric Aircraft, China, designed and manufactured by Yuneec International

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