When the Mu plug won the Design Award of the Year in 2010, it was a David and Goliath tale. The humble plug, not something that is usually at the top of a designer's must-do list, was a slim and lovely answer to a big and bulky problem.
The sturdy three-pin British plug is chunky and cumbersome and has not changed since its inception in 1947. And those prongs poke out and scratch things. As our iPods and iPhones get slimmer and sexier (and more expensive) and fit into sleeker cases, someone had to do something about the plug.
Enter South Korean designer Min-Kyu Choi who had won the Design Award in 2010 for the folding plug concept. He teamed up with business/creative types and re-jigged it for its first incarnation.
It's an interesting story about how things change from concept to delivery. The new Mu folding three-pronged plug is no longer a folding plug. Instead, it has become a good looking one-for-all battery charger and USB adaptor for the iPod, iPhone, and BlackBerry. It will not work for a laptop.
In Greek, mu means micro. Fittingly, the Mu is 70 per cent smaller than the traditional bulky plug and folds to a thinness of fourteen millimetres. The two bottom live and neutral power pins rotate by 90 degrees, allowing the plug’s body to fold in half, into a sleek rectangular shape. It’s great shape and weight for popping into briefcases or your pocket.
The name Mu was chosen from a competition amongst loyal design fans. Mu won because it is as "simple, elegant and iconic as the product itself."
O.K., it's not going to change the world, particularly if it doesn't even work for many laptops, which require more power. But sometimes you just want something because it is stylish and gorgeous (gasp!), and that's the Mu. Its next incarnation may be an international version of the folding plug; now that will really make a difference.