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Last Updated: Friday, 2 June 2006, 09:54 GMT 10:54 UK
Steam iron gets makeover for men
By Justin Parkinson
BBC News education reporter

Mary Hackney's iron design
The blue 'go-faster' stripe is expected to attract gadget-lovers
The humble steam iron has undergone a face-lift in an effort to attract more men to the most tedious of chores.

Student Mary Hackney has designed a model with simpler dials and bigger handles and "go-faster stripes", which she hopes will make it "more exciting".

Mary, from Coventry University, said she wanted irons to be seen as "gadgets" in the same way as expensive kettles and toasters - and even iPods.

"It's based on car design and will make ironing sleek and sexy," she added.

Fat fingers

During the research for her final-year project, Mary, 23, discovered that many men found irons hard to use.

She said: "A lot of the handles and dials are too small for bigger hands, and they can be really complicated.

Mary Hackney
I don't want the iron to be hidden away in a cupboard. I want it to be on display
Mary Hackney

"Some men can't even get their hands around the handle. It's very hard to use, for instance, if you have fat fingers.

"So I've made the handle bigger but I've also tried to make the dials less difficult."

In an appeal to gadget-loving men, the iron features a scanning device which recognises the fabric and automatically selects the appropriate temperature and steam control.

Mary, from Leicester, has also focused on the look.

She said: "The aesthetics of irons are generally designed in a more feminine way, with a lot of pastel shades.

Man ironing during the 1940s
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"They were usually designed for the 1950s consumer - and that meant women. Irons should appeal to both sexes.

"Both sexes find ironing boring, so I tried to make the iron more exciting to use.

"I tried to make it more of a gadget, like some of the luxury toasters people have sitting proudly in their homes.

"I don't want the iron to be hidden away in a cupboard. I want it to be on display."

Mary's iron - called the Slice - is designed to fit 99% of male hands.

She added: "It would be nice to do what James Dyson did to make vacuum cleaners more sexy.

"That's what I want irons to be: sleek and sexy."

Mary's design is on display at Coventry University's Graham Sutherland Building until Thursday 8 June.


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