A plug wins the Brit Insurance Design Awards 2010.


Back in 2008 Brit Insurance and the Design Museum teamed up to bring us the Brit Insurance Design Award  an international, annual award ceremony and supporting exhibition for up and coming designers in the categories of architecture, fashion, furniture, graphics, interactive, product and transport.

The winner of the 2010 title was announced last night by jury chair Antony Gormley during a glittering ceremony at the Design Museum. The winner is Min-Kyu Choi, the nominee from the product category who has dreamt up a revolutionary concept of a foldable household plug.
How incredibly boring.Granted, this may come in handy when carting one's laptop/phone charger/nasal hair trimmer around and you really, really need that extra 5cm of space, plus, it also protects against the common and excruciating household injury of stepping on an upturned plug whilst wearing only socks, an aspect of life which I could definitely do without. But a plug, really? It becomes even more of a bore when you take a look at the potential winners from the other categories

Architecture - Monterrey Housing, Mexico. By ELEMENTAL, Chile
An ingenious housing solution for a community of city centre squatters in Iquique, Chile and Monterrey, Mexico. Elemental has designed a series of pre-fabricated structures which the occupants can expand and develop themselves. Why is it better than a plug?  Because it may well save lives. It is a positive solution to the ever growing problem of housing in overcrowded cities and offers an incentive for people to take care of their surroundings by giving them more control over their living quarters.

Furniture - Grassworks, Netherlands. Designed by Jair Straschnow A series of flat-pack, self-assembly furniture pieces all made from bamboo sheet laminates using no glue and no nails. The pieces take on a transformer-like persona when the dining chair can be turned into an easy chair and the bookshelf can become a space divider. Why is it better than a plug? - Because bamboo is a highly sustainable source and Straschnow revives traditional woodwork techniques such as the dovetail joint.

Graphics - The Newspaper Club, UK. Created by Ben Terrett, Russell Davies and Ton Taylor and supported by 4iP
A company which allows individuals and small establishments to print their own newspapers, or anything else which involves ink and newsprint. They have small runs of 5  5,000 to keep costs down. Why is it better than a plug? - As a journalist I am more aware than most of the impending death of the printed word  this is a positive step against this and will also probably hatch a colony of interesting fanzines.

Fashion - Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 10 and Spring/ Summer 10 Catwalk Presentation, Plato's Atlantis.
This was Alexander's last collection before his untimely death back in February. The theme is Atlantis  a fantasy underwater world where fish, reptiles and aliens are the recurring themes and models strut down the runway in hoof-like shoes. The show was broadcasted over the internet by Nick Knight's SHOWstudio, allowing average Joes worldwide to watch the action at the same time as the celebrities and the fashion journalists. Why is it better than a plug?  I'm not even going to dignify that with an answer.

Interactive - The EyeWriter, USA. Developed by members of Free Art and Technology, openFrameworks, Graffiti Research Lab, The Ebeling Group and Tony Quan 
A gadget which enables sufferers of ALS, a syndrome which leaves you completely paralyzed with the exception of your eyes to draw using only their eyes. Why is it better than a plug?  Because this could turn ALS sufferer's lives around by giving them the power to express themselves artistically, in turn it will also create a new artistic community.

Transport - E430 Electric Aircraft, China. Designed and manufactured by Yuneec International
The world's first electric aircraft. A twin seater, single engine craft from China. It costs £5 to charge the engine up for a 3 hour flight. Why is it better than a plug?  Because this could make a significant cut in the number of emissions chucked out by aircraft, it also makes for a smoother and quieter flight which means that one day you might actually be able to hear your iPod and also not have to wake up in a I'm about to die' panic when the plane hits some turbulence in the middle of your snooze.

So there you have it, six amazing nominees and one surprising winner. Perhaps solving our everyday inconveniences is more important to us than dealing with issues of homelessness, climate change, people's health or honouring a dearly departed God of fashion but I'm sure I'll be thanking Min-Kyu Choi in a year's time when my handbag is roomier and my feet puncture-free.

Jessica Hazel

By Jessica Hazel
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