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Title: Duke of Edingburgh's Prize for Elegant Design

Pages: 30 - 32

         

Author: Editorial

Text: Duke of Edingburgh's prize for Elegant Design
This year's prize is awarded to Jack Howe as industrial design consultant for the Chubb cash dispenser MD2
manufactured by Chubb & Son's Lock and Safe Co. Ltd. The Duke of Edingburgh is to present the Prize and the
CoID Design Awards on the Queen Elizabeth 2 at the end of May.
The cash dispenser has a fascia of heavy gauge stainless steel. Money is obtained by inserting a personal
identification card and tabulating a code number. The machine can recognise many millions of numbers and
the system is complex enough to eliminate the danger of anybody finding a lost card being able to work out the
appropriate number.
In awarding the 1969 Duke of Edinburgh's Prize for Elegant Design to Jack Howe the judging panel, which was
chaired by Prince Philip, concluded that "the Chubb cash dispenser is an encouraging advance in the development
of vending machines which hitherto have not achieved a high standard of design. We commend Mr Howe and the
design team for an elegant solution to the problem of security for the banks which meets architectural needs and
provides a service to the man in the street. We hope that it will set a standard of design for machines of this kind,
which are increasingly becoming part of the public environment."
The Chubb cash dispenser (DESIGN 234/35) has been developed to provide a convenient and secure method of
issuing money to customers to augment the normal banking service. The dispenser makes cash available 24 hours
a day and therefore provides a useful facility both outside banking hours (a feature which will become still more
important when the banks begin their five-day week next month) and in relieving the pressure on the counter service
at peak hours. Cash dispensers are also likely to be developed for issuing money in such places as exhibitions,
supermarkets and factories. The dispenser has been designed so that it can easily be adapted to be connected
direct to a bank's computer.
To operate the Chubb cash dispenser a customer is issued with a personal identification number and coded plastics
cards according to his requirements and credit, each card enabling 10 to be withdrawn from the dispenser at a
time. To draw cash the card is inserted in the machine which, if the card is valid, illuminates an instruction asking
the customer to key in his identification number. If this number is correct, the machine issues a plastics pack
containing ten 1 notes, the card being retained until the customer's account has been debited, when it is returned
to him by post. .
The dispenser will not operate unless the card is of the correct material, size, thickness, coded to the system,
inserted the right way up, and associated with the correct identification number. The machine retains the card if a
wrong number has been fed in three times in succession, the card being marked to prevent the customer's account
being debited.
Having taken the decision to develop the cash dispenser, Chubb approached Smiths Industries Limited to design
and make the necessary electronic devices, Smiths Industries being chosen because of a long history of co-
operation with Chubb over time clocks for safes and because the company's experience with electronic systems for
aircraft gave it the necessary appreciation of reliability and security. A small joint development team was set up
headed by W E Randall, Chubb's deputy chairman, and P Blair, a special director of Smiths Industries. The initial
prototype was first shown to all the leading banks in March 1967, and they confirmed Chubb's original market
analysis and basic design of the system by placing immediate orders. It was therefore decided to go ahead with
production, and Jack Howe - who has been Chubb's consultant industrial designer since he was recommended by
the CoID's Designer Selection Service in 1961 - was called in to design the fascia unit, his brief being to make the
dispenser attractive and as simple as possible to operate.
Once he had produced some initial drawings, Mr Howe carried out most of his work on the prototype at Chubb's
Wolverhampton factory, collaborating with the company's engineers. Particular attention was given to the areas of
the machine used by the customer to ensure that the slot into which the card has to be inserted is easy to find, that
the instructions that light up to tell the customer when to feed in his identification number are clear and visible, and
that the buttons used for feeding in the identification number are comfortable to press and arranged logically. A
heavy gauge of stainless steel was chosen for the fascia as this is unaffected by the weather, resists vandalism, and
looks entirely in keeping with the appearance of the most modern bank building or fits in with the more traditional.
Chubb had originally planned a nine-month development of the prototype dispenser but, under pressure from
competition, the first production model was in fact installed in under five months, this speed both emphasising the
correctness of Chubb's original analysis and design of the system and Jack Howe's ability to fit into his client's
development team so closely that the right solution for the fascia was found extremely quickly.
Already more than 400 dispensers have been installed in Britain, and a further 40 machines have been supplied for
use in Australia, Belgium Brazil, Canada, France, Portugal, South Africa and the United States.
"I appreciate that this award is given for the industrial design aspects of the product, but I must emphasise how
much a team effort this was," says Mr Howe. "The cash dispenser is a very sophisticated piece of equipment which
could not have been launched without the contribution of every member of the design and production team. Chubb's
are particularly good clients: both the chairman and members of the board are firmly convinced of the importance of
good design and I get the fullest cooperation throughout the firm. When a consultant industrial designer can develop
this kind of relationship he can make a contribution even to products with which he is not directly involved. Too many
otherwise excellent engineering products are spoiled by the failure of anyone to stand back and consider them as a
whole, there is a tendency to work on particular parts of a machine separately and without always considering how
they will come together. The industrial designer is in a good position to take an overall look at the product and I find
that I often help just by walking round and suggesting a few minor changes to make the whole product as good as
the sum of its parts."
Jack Howe's ability to work well with people at all levels, from the factory floor to top management, is demonstrated
by the length of time he has been associated with most of his clients. For example, he is still actively involved with
Gent & Co Ltd. who gave him his first industrial design commission in 1946, and also had a long and fruitful
relationship with AEI. In awarding this prize, the selection panel took into account Mr Howe's longstanding
contribution to British industrial design in work that has included the British Railways Pullman diesel electric trains,
street lighting, bus shelters, a telephone switchboard, sanitary fittings, transformers and switchgear, medical
equipment, clocks and collaboration on the buildings for the 1961 British Trade Fair in Moscow.
Jack Howe, who was born in 1911, trained as an architect at the Regent Street Polytechnic. He became interested
in industrial
design when working as chief assistant to Walter Gropius and Maxwell Fry before the war: "Gropius was so
particular about the details of his buildings that we designed many of the fittings as specials," he explains. "I
enjoyed the meticulous work involved as I am, I suppose, interested as much in engineering as I am in architecture.
Then, after the war, Gent's asked me to design some clocks, and my industrial design work grew from there." Mr
Howe was appointed to the Faculty of Royal Designers for Industry in 1962 and was president of the Society of
Industrial Artists and Designers in 1963. He lives in Wimbledon and has an office in Edgware Road.
The Duke of Edinburgh's Prize is awarded annually to the designer of a product "distinguished by its elegance." Mr
Howe receives a I certificate at this year's presentation ceremony and, at a similar ceremony next year, | the Duke
of Edinburgh will present him with an actual prize, an appropriate article designed by Mr Howe himself or
commissioned from another designer.
With Prince Philip on the panel that made the award toJack Howe, above, were Mary Quant, of Mary Quant Ltd.,
Robert Heritage, designer, the Marchioness of Anglesey, president of the Federation of Women's Institutes, Robin
Day, designer.
Jack Howe's Duke of Edinburgh's Prize for Elegant Design takes into consideration his longstanding contribution to
British industrial design, as well as his work on the cash dispenser. His work has covered different areas of design,
from architecture to switchgear, and included the Pavilion for the British Trade Fair at Moscow in 1961, above
(designed in collaboration with the Moscow Soviet Architects' Department and Maurice Gauthier, architect for the
French National Exhibition, Moscow, 1962); the exterior and interior treatment of British Railways' 1960 multiple-unit
diesel electric Pullman train, right; and the two wall clocks, both dating from 1956, far right, for Gent & Co Ltd. a firm
from which Jack Howe had his first industrial design, commission in 1946.

 

 

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