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Natasha Polyviou

Natasha Polyviou

Meet the Team: Ben, Head of Product

Ben Callicott, Head of Product at Primo Toys, with three iterations of Cubetto, the wooden robot who teaches computer programming to kids

One of the company’s founding members, Ben Callicott was Primo Toys’ employee #3. His exceptional design skills have taken Cubetto through three ever-greater iterations and won multiple industry awards for the little robot. We keep him around for his affable nature and alleged tea-making habit. 

I’m responsible for…

All things product at Primo. I oversee the new and exciting products being developed as well as looking after the current ones, working with our partners in China and our in-house design team to make sure we continue to deliver to the high standards we have set.

On a typical day…

Due to the time zones I am normally on Skype calls in the morning with our factory in China, and then working with Dimitri and Federica from the design and graphics team in the afternoon. In any startup environment it is all hands on deck, so I’ve also been involved in promoting the product at trade shows and exhibitions, as well as making the odd cup of tea.

I got here…

Through Kickstarter! I found Primo during the first campaign, and instantly thought the product was an inspired idea, so I got in touch to see if there was anything I could help them with. I was looking to get stuck into a new project after contracting for a while, and after meeting Filippo and the team it was clear to me that they were passionate about what they do and had big ambitions for the future. It was an easy decision to get on board.

In my past life…

I always knew I wanted to design children’s toys ever since I finished studying Product Design. I think we’re all kids at heart and I liked the idea of creating products that don’t necessarily take themselves too seriously. It was this ambition that led me to starting off designing playgrounds. Having enjoyed that experience I really wanted to design hands-on toys, and managed to find myself working for the Early Learning Centre in Hong Kong. This was a great opportunity for me to get into China and really see how stuff is made – it’s fair to say it was an eye-opener.

My most memorable work moment…

Seeing my first piece of playground equipment being used (and critiqued) by kids. I proudly asked one five-year-old boy what he thought to which he replied: “It’s rubbish”. Humbling.

Ben Callicott, head of Product at Primo Toys

I’m inspired by…

I don’t have a go-to source for inspiration. You need to get out and see the world around you. I believe more in experiences. If you live in a box you will design a box.

My design philosophy…

Keep things simple, minimal, and strip away the clutter.

My great ambition…

Is to see less waste in the world. Having been in and around the toy industry I see a lot of products being sold that I know will end up in landfill. Whilst I don’t profess to being able to solve this, I take comfort in working on products that I truly believe in and hope will be kept and passed down.

The best part of my job…

Solving problems, and getting over the inevitable hurdles.

The most challenging part of my job…

Solving problems, and getting over the inevitable hurdles.

My special talent…

I wouldn’t say it’s special but I enjoy playing the guitar and attempting to sing along, to the annoyance of my wife.

Outside of work…

I’ve got a nine-month-old son now so that keeps me pretty busy!

My signature dish…

It’s fair to say I’m not the greatest cook, but I do make a mean beans on toast (shhh… it’s all about the Worcestershire sauce!).

If I wasn’t a designer…

I have a passion for sport, and always had dreams of being a sports journalist.

My advice to someone who wants to get into this line of work…

Is to try to grasp the commercials of design, and to understand your margins and how much it costs to make something. It’s just as important as to how something looks and functions.

On social media you can find me…

On LinkedIn

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