I had so much fun interviewing Jamie Berard
about Creator Expert
and the Modular Building
Series, and Rok Zgalin Kobe
about the LEGO Architecture
theme earlier this year. It's rare to get an opportunity to get inside the minds of the creative genius designers at LEGO, so I thought you might enjoy some selected highlights from these interviews.Highlights from: ɪɴᴛᴇʀᴠɪᴇᴡ: Modular Building Series with Jamie Berard
We discussed how Downtown Diner, and Parisian Restauraunt represented two major turning points in the series...
Jamie Berard: "Some people would say there are two stages of the modular, with #10243 Parisian Restaurant starting the second expression because we put more detail inside the building and focused a bit more on storytelling. As we approached the 10 year mark, we needed to be careful that we didn’t stay on auto-pilot, where it becomes too familiar and people can just predict the next one."
I surprised that one of the earlier sets wasn't very well received initially:Jamie Berard: "I remember when we did the #10197 Fire Brigade. That one was not very well received in that people were horrified that it was too American; ... They said that the flag is hideous, although that I appreciate that and agree... Then they said it only has two floors, and everybody knows the modular have three floors. They had already defined in their mind what it should be."
We also got a chance to talk about how Creator Expert helped bring Teal back...Jamie Berard: "We considered Medium Azure and some other blues. All of these complement the Dark Pink color we wanted to use for the convertible in this set. ... we thought this set was a nice way to bring teal back, and bring it back with a quantity of bricks.
We also talked about storytelling (ex: money laundering), and highlights his two favorite sets in the series! Link to full interview.Highlights from: ɪɴᴛᴇʀᴠɪᴇᴡ: LEGO Creator Expert with Jamie Berard
Since my passion is LEGO Architecture, we talked at length about the large Architecture models (like Big Ben) in the Creator Expert series. I asked how they pick which buildings to create as sets:Jamie Berard: "It is harder for us to accomplish contemporary, clean architecture in a large model, because of our target audience is adults. ... If you try to re-create any of the well-known architecture that is too minimalist ... in a LEGO version it comes across a bit naïve ... On the flip side, there’s a lot of great classic architecture that you can imagine in LEGO and know it’s gonna be great. I’d say anything “old world” looks great in LEGO because we have a lot of opportunities for details, texture, implying different stonework or materials."
I was surprised to hear that they struggle to wrap there heads around what deserves the "Creator Expert" label.
Jamie Berard: "But how do you perceive what makes it Expert? This is an internal question we are trying to resolve…"
We also learned which building in the Creator Expert was most challenging to get right, and might have still been a bit disappointing in the end. It was fun hearing how much enthusiasm he has about his work, something you may have already noticed when watching his Designer Videos. Link to full interview.Highlights from: ɪɴᴛᴇʀᴠɪᴇᴡ: Rok Žgalin Kobe on LEGO Architecture
I started with the same question I asked Jamie - how do you decide what building to make into a LEGO Architecture set? Is it based on market research, your passion, or to coincide with when a new LEGO store is opening?Rok Žgalin Kobe: "It’s actually a combination of them all, and really depends on the model. One might stem from a good idea of a great model that we think is feasible, another might stem from the underlying ... We need to take into account everything from how many sets we’ll have that year, and the price points we would like to have them at, to how the overall portfolio looks like. Of course, we are glad for the ones that just work out."
He showed prototypes of LEGO House and Guggenheim models.
I also enjoyed the deeper look at a few specific sets like Statue of Liberty, Great Wall, and the Guggenheim. He shared some of the unique challenges and pleasures in being one of the few people at LEGO with a background in Architecture. The whole interview includes more photos of the Guggenheim and LEGO House prototypes.
I hope you enjoyed the stories behind these great LEGO sets!
---tomP.S. For practical reasons, these are just a few of my favorite excerpts from the full interviews at brickarchitect.com .