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Meet Designer: Ben Callicott

I get physical products made and to market!

My job title?

Product Director at Yoto

What is your typical "day in the life of a designer"?

I spend an awful lot of my time working with our Chinese manufacturing partners so my day usually starts with me opening Skype to check messages that came in overnight. The morning is then spent with lots of back-and-forth resolving 'today's' issues.

Once China sleeps (which they never seem to) I then focus on other tasks at hand which in the context of NPD could either be working with external design agencies on the next product on the roadmap or internally managing stakeholders on getting product decisions made, managing delivery expectations, planning product launches, etc. I find my job is really a mix of product/project management and cat herding.

Design principles you live by?

In no particular order:

- Good is better than best... ship it!

- Always validate your assumptions, and don't design in an echo chamber

- Leave your designer ego at the door, be open to feedback from everyone and filter it.

- Cliché I know, but less really is more, don't overcomplicate something, and watch out for feature creep.

What problem can't you stop thinking about?

Teaching our kids to think for themselves

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Do the least amount required at each stage in order to move forward

When is "Design done wrong"?

As a semi-recent father, I must say kids prams. They are over-engineered and not designed for use. I imagine a load of grad students getting excited by the mech design and not that somebody might have a kid screaming, bags of shopping and all I want to do is be able to fold the damn pram quickly (rant over).

What skill do you wish you picked up really early on?

Not so much a skill, but better awareness of the commerciality of product development, at the end of the day if you are designing something to sell then somebody has to buy it at the right price. When you factor in cost early it becomes a really good design constraint.

Design tools you can’t live without? (Physical and/or digital)

Sharpies, post-its (lots of them) and a plain Moleskine notebook

Books you highly recommend for anyone pursuing a career in design?

Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry

Two Designer friends you admire and we should talk to!

Jon Marshall - Partner at Pentagram - Industrial designer whose work fuses product design with strategy, branding, packaging, and digital experiences, and an all round great guy!

Where and What did you study?

Product Design,

Bournemouth University, UK

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