For a toy that’s been around for more than 82 years, LEGO is more popular now than ever before. The LEGO Movie opened on February 7, 2014, and it has been the top box office movie for the first three weeks - grossing $183 million. The plot of this animated gem is not complicated – much like the LEGO blocks – but it is compelling.
An ordinary LEGO mini-figure, mistakenly thought to be the extraordinary Master-Builder, is recruited to join a quest to stop an evil LEGO tyrant from gluing the universe together.
Meh. Not exactly The Godfather, but take a look at this clip and you’ll see the best product placement (Hello? It’s all LEGOs!) in the history of the cinema. This movie will no doubt introduce an entirely new generation to LEGOs and it begs the question: How has LEGO remained popular with kids of all ages for more than 80 years?
There are many reasons for this LEGO popularity and we’ve snapped together a few of them below. Renewed interest in this remarkable toy also affords us the opportunity to do a little scientific study on creativity.
For this research we have enlisted an award-winning architect – Lynn Guidry – who has designed schools, firehouses, public buildings and private homes throughout south Louisiana and is the man responsible for designing the beautiful Carencro Veterans Memorial, scheduled to be built later this year. Plus, as a lifelong LEGO fanatic, Lynn is also the perfect expert to help us delve into the creativity magnet that is LEGO.
In addition to an outstanding architect, we have asked several brilliant LEGO artisans, of various ages and both genders, to participate in this experiment on creativity. As you read this post, please notice the various designs, randomly placed throughout the post. They are all completed with the same number and shapes of LEGO pieces. Lynn will give us his analysis at the conclusion and you can add your own opinions to the comments.
Creative Folks Love LEGOs
According to a 2012 post on the company blog of Shaw Contract Group, a division of the behemoth Berkshire Hathaway Group, LEGOs have inspired 99 percent of practicing architects. That sounds about right. Our own expert – Lynn Guidry – is part of this 99 percent and he continues to enjoy using these multicolored plastic blocks to build elegant columns placed delicately on tasteful plinths with his grandkids.
The LEGO Group, which turned 82 in August, can look back onto an impressive success story – from 1932 to today. The company, founded by Ole Kirk Christiansen as a production company for wooden toys in the Danish city of Billund, has moved from the original small workshop back in 1932, to become the third-largest producer of play materials in the world.
At the end of the 1940s, the first bricks hit the market, which resemble the modern classic of today. In 1958, Christiansen perfected the LEGO brick with the familiar knobs-and-tubes connecting system, which is what the now 3,120 different LEGO elements are still based on. It is currently represented in more than 130 countries with approximately 10,000 employees.
LEGO Imitates Modern Design
Not only did LEGO affect architects but, according to the Shaw Contract Group, modern design influenced LEGO. “In the 1960s, Modern style became popular in America. LEGO Group challenged its designers to invent a set of components that would add a new dimension to LEGO building. They decided on a smaller LEGO brick that made it possible to construct far more intricate models than ever before. Soon after 1962, the LEGO ‘Scale Model’ line, directly inspired by the work of architects and engineers, was born.”
Even the most popular newspaper in our nation’s capital, The Washington Post, felt obliged to recognize the importance of these little bricks. “During the time when Modernist skyscrapers touched city skylines, an infinite combination of LEGOs rose to great heights in our childhood bedrooms. This is what makes LEGO so inspiring – that first, tempting taste of what it could be like to dream and build boldly in addition to the possibility and wonder of architecture itself.”
What Can You Tell From a LEGO Design?
Can there be any doubt that LEGOs are the building blocks for creativity in all ages and both genders? We think not. What is not clear, however, is whether one can determine something about the personality of our LEGO builders, based on their designs.
We asked Lynn to apply his professional expertise and LEGO-centricity to give us his thoughts on the three designs, pictured above. Let’s see what a trained architectural eye sees in these three designs.
DESIGN A: Very symmetrical, very proper, and loaded with attention. I especially like the vertical element with the horizontal arms. Reminds me of acrobats at Cirque du Soleil, or a venue for diving at the Summer Olympics. But its strongest gesture is in its religious content, so I see a church, Christian-based but probably not for a traditional denomination. At a smaller scale, it could also be a broach on a lady’s lapel. If we turn it on its side, it could be a snow removal machine.
The creator seems to be very grounded and thoughtful. He/she is probably strong in math and engineering, but also has a flair for design. He/she built a box, but found a way to escape the box.
DESIGN B: Unbalanced elevation and in plan, which piques our interest. Seems to have a door or window near its base, so the building I see is people-friendly, perhaps vehicle-friendly. Could be a convenience store, or a fast-food restaurant, or a building with an ATM. But because of the forms and colors, I see a Dairy Queen!
The creator appears to be very curious, and searching for excitement, as is seen in the wall opposite the door. That wall uses Legos in a non-horizontal way, making what would otherwise be an un-interesting wall into one that draws our attention. He/she sees the world through fresh eyes, and has a creative gene.
DESIGN C: Could be lots of things. I see one or two people dancing. I see a crab eating. I see excitement and amusement and movement. I see a machine that is used in the construction industry to finish concrete, called a Whirlibird. I see a museum where you take an elevator to the top and walk your way down to see various exhibits.
Very un-symmetrical, but not haphazard; there is a system there. Has height and width. Not tied to a base. Seems fun, but well-constructed as witnessed by the piece near the top that connects at one level, extends out, and then connects at a higher level. It’s casual, but also well thought out.
Creator is an aspiring artist or musician. Buy him/her a bigger box of Legos!
So, do you agree with Lynn? Those of us who managed this experiment were amazed by his insights, because we know who designed each LEGO edifice.
Can we get a drumroll please?
Here are your 2014 Prejean Creative LEGO designers:
DESIGN A was completed by Morgan Chandler, a 16-year-old, extremely talented visual and performance artist. Her interest in performance art is found in Lynn’s reference to “Cirque du Soleil” and she does, indeed, have a “flair for design!” Rating for the analysis: Spot on!
DESIGN B was completed by Nora Pelloquin who is 5 years old and the daughter of Prejean Creative designer Brent Pelloquin. Lynn nailed her precocious, curious personality, her “creative gene” and her “fresh eyes” (they don’t get much fresher than 5 years old). Rating for analysis: Amazing!
DESIGN C was completed by someone whose job is to design things every day. Kevin Prejean, principal and creative director, built this LEGO design and Lynn absolutely nailed his personality and creative sensibility. He is indeed an “aspiring artist” and we plan on buying him a “bigger box of LEGOs.” Rating for analysis: Uncanny!
What do you think about our three designs? Do you agree with architect Lynn Guidry? Do you still play with LEGOs? Tell us by posting below.