Sometimes the government is really rather good at design

A little gem I discovered from Who Goes Home? A Parliamentary Miscellany by Robert Rogers:

The red despatch box is a badge of ministerial office … The lock is on the bottom, not the top, which is intended to ensure that the box is locked before it is carried.

That’s a very smart piece of design, designing out problems at source.

(On a related point: despatch boxes are also available in black, so that they are less conspicuous when someone is travelling with one.)

6 responses to “Sometimes the government is really rather good at design”

  1. Really, it would not be a problem if we didn't elect numpties who tried carrying away open briefcases! It is, after all, a problem no known commercial manufacturer has identified, so must be peculiar to public servants! Now they need to design out the ability to leave any state owned briefcase on a train or taxi seat. Not so good with that one are they 🙂

    • Jock Coats You never seen anyone in the private sector pick up an open briefcase by mistake in this way? Not even in a slapstick comedy? I think your dislike of the state is showing 🙂

  2. it is so that if you open it on your desk, to work from it, then the handle, etc are not in the way. On a train, say, most of us would take the papers out of the case and stow the case, but with a red-box you need to keep it in sight at all times. You could, just, work with it on your knee, again, having the handle on the other side helps.
    Anyway ‘the government’ should not get any credit for this, it would be the guy who got the contract to supply them, ie a designer/creative person, not an academic!

    • But these go back a long way. It’s entirely likely that a civil servant specified “lock on the bottom” or similar words that might not be misunderstood.

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