Old-fashioned British plug gets a space-saving design overhaul


March 18, 2010

The Folding Plug is designed to to collapse flat for packing in a laptop bag (Credit: Min-Kyu Choi)

The Folding Plug is designed to to collapse flat for packing in a laptop bag (Credit: Min-Kyu Choi)

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When the British plug was introduced in 1946 it did not have great ambitions. It did not expect to travel the world, buried in laptop bags, forming awkward acquaintances with travel adapters. When burdened with a jet-setter lifestyle it fought back; peevishly shredding important documents, scarring laptops, and generally making itself a bulky, disagreeable yet indispensable travel companion. But after 50 years of dogged service, finally the old-fashioned plug could be heading for a revamp. The astonishingly simple "Folding Plug" design from British student Min-Kyu Choi, just won product design category of the prestigious Brit Insurance Designs Awards.

The space-saving design is deceptive in its simplicity. When collapsed the three-prongs lie in succession; the top-most pin stays static, while the middle and bottom pins twist 90 degrees into their lower position forming the standard triangle. Flaps tucked back against the main body of the plug flick out to form the back, and the expanded unit protrudes only 1cm compared to a standard 4.5cm UK plug.

Additionally, Mr Choi has designed a "USB Charger" and an adapter, the "Multi Flat Plug" which allows three foldaway plugs to fit one standard socket, whilst still taking up barely more room than a standard UK plug. He has plans to release these and other complementary products later in 2010 via his site Made in Mind, and further plans to release other country-specific variants in the future.

Mr Choi, 29, from Bayswater, London, was moved to inspiration when he bought a new MacBook Air, the world's slimmest laptop, but was frustrated when the world's largest plug proved awkward to carry and scratched his new purchase. He designed the product to meet our most common travel appliance needs: mobile power for laptops, digital cameras, mobile phones and mp3 players, whilst remaining slim enough to fit in a laptop bag.

The Brit Insurance Design of the Year Award is an international competition honoring design excellence in products, ecodesign, interaction design, packaging, strategy, research and concepts, and was judged this year by a panel including sculptor Anthony Gormley, and journalist Janet Street Porter. Additionally the "Folding Plug" was awarded gold in the International Design Excellence Awards, and was also a finalist in the distinguished Wallpaper Design Awards.

"‘The folding plug shows how intelligent, elegant and inventive design can make a difference to everyone's life," said Gormley.

Gregory Schultz of Design Inc. remarked the plug was “an elegant solution to a timeless problem. In this case less IS more”

Brits will undoubtedly look forward to a slimline solution to this pointed problem.


something as simple as the 3 pin plug and a thinking out of the box guy comes up with a brilliantly easy solution, awesome !


Congratulations to Mr. Choi! This is a very well thought out redesign of the original hugely overspecified British plug, which is an exceptionally awkward item. However....why not fit the neatest type of existing plug (from worldwide choice) to all your equipment, with matching multi adapter, then connect to the British socket with an single adapter? I am impressed by the actual demo models. I wonder how they were made? Now that most plugs are moulded, they could be made in a more slim line way, but the swivelling pin idea is really neat.


The prototypes could be made by one of the several methods of rapid prototyping, or they could be resin castings made in RTV silicone molds cast over a machined metal, plastic or rapid prototype master.

Facebook User

Brilliant idea!!,nice Design,easy manufacturing process,simple yet practical ...hope you will expand this idea to plug and device manufacturing company so it can be localize all over commonwealth country, hope to see it to be use as standard plug all over the world. can\'t wait to use it right here in Malaysia

Husnil Amar

Complimentary products? I do like them when they\'re polite!

William Blackburn
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