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Natasha Polyviou

Meet the Team: Dimitri, Interaction Designer

Dimitri Hadjichristou is one of Primo Toys’ earliest hires. He started as an intern in April 2016 and worked his way up to Interaction Designer. Here he talks us through his design principles, the joys and challenges of working with children, and his love of sneakers. 

I’m responsible for…

Supporting and handling all things three-dimensional at Primo Toys. I primarily work along the design team researching and developing new products for the company, but also handle trade-show design as well, collaborating with super talented makers to help bring our designs to life.

On a typical day…

I’m usually at my desk, either computer-modelling, sketching, contacting educators or arranging user testing sessions. I can often be found getting hands-on with practical work like using the laser cutter to make prototypes, or conducting on-the-ground research in children’s workshops. 

I got here…

My journey into design, believe it or not, actually spawned from basketball! I played a lot in high school but couldn’t afford proper shoes. My dad cut me a deal – if I researched and could explain the technical aspects of the shoes to him, he’d help me buy a pair. Nearly a decade, hundreds of shoe sketches, and a product design degree later, I realised my real interests lie in human-centred design and creating products with a larger sense of purpose. It was that which led me to Primo: to design toys with real educational benefits.

In my past life…

I’ve done a variety of things: I’ve worked on a production line for Dupont, a labourer on Pentonville Road, a student ambassador for the University of the Arts London and a design assistant for Michael Young in Hong Kong.

My most memorable work moment…

Was probably when I was an intern working on a product for a big vodka company. We were designing a really exciting, innovative product but unfortunately there was a change in management and the project was cut – which is unfortunate because it will probably never see the light of day! I’m sworn to secrecy on what it was…

The best part of my job…

Is working with kids (I’ve been told from time to time that I’m a big kid myself). All in all I find children really fascinating as no child is alike, and it’s amazing to see how they think and process things.

The most challenging part of my job…

Funnily the best part of my job is also one of the most challenging. Our toys are aimed at three to six-year-olds, who naturally find it quite difficult to articulate their thoughts. So I’m still learning to understand what they really think when they test prototypes, as opposed to what they say they think.

Dimitri Hajichristou, coding with Cubetto and Primo Toys at the V&A Museum, London

My special talent…

Is music playlist compilation. I spend countless hours on Spotify creating playlists for all kinds of moods. I used to DJ at uni and ran a radio show called ‘Q-Tips’ so I think it’s safe to say I’m good at it.

Outside of work…

I like to keep busy, whether I’m doing workshops, dabbling in personal design projects ranging from print and video editing to animation and music remixes, or learning to drum.

My signature dish…

Is Sriracha and lime-honey chicken. It’s easy to cook and delicious!

I’m inspired by…

My inspirations aren’t solely design-oriented, I’m inspired by people from a variety of backgrounds: Nike designer Tinker Hatfield, chef Grant Achatz and LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy. I’m really interested in people who take typical things and flip them into something incredibly unorthodox, whether it’s footwear, food, music, anything!

My design philosophy…

Is function first, form later. Form is important but I think it should be indicative of the function. A lot of designers don’t appreciate this and it often leads to arbitrary designs that really don’t need to exist.

My great ambition…

Is to run a design consultancy. I think there’s great opportunity to juggle a multitude of projects and try my hand at anything or everything there is to design.

When I retire…

I’d really like to mentor kids in design thinking. When I was in school there wasn’t much emphasis on design and its links to effective problem-solving. I really wish I’d discovered it much earlier in life and given the chance I would like to instill that in kids at a young age.

If I wasn’t a designer…

I’d probably have liked to run a record label. Either that or I’d like to have done something economics related – I think there are parallels between the disciplines of design and economics, related to understanding why problems exist and creating solutions.

My advice to someone who wants to get into product design…

Work hard, try and find what really interests you, and channel that throughout your work – whether it’s a real focus on design detailing, service design or research-focused design.

On social media you can find me…

On Instagram @d.hadji.

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