By Charlotte Jul, writer, editor and curator, 2006
The universal building block
A little piece of plastic. Normally rectangular. With small round pips which rise from the surface of the block to enable it to interlock with other bricks. A tiny invention with a great effect! An innovation in the field of toys in that the focus is transferred from the object to the interplay between the child and the object. An interactive toy that most adults wouldn’t mind playing with either! Is it not incredible that such a limited number of blocks with a restricted number of functions is capable of creating such an unlimited range of possibilities? The simple and unique format of the Lego building block can stimulate and challenge the child’s creativity for hours, bestowing international recognition on Lego since the 1960s. Since that date more than 350 billion Lego bricks have been sent out into the world.
So what did you build? We had a huge box full of Lego bricks, which we transformed into houses, aircraft and motor cars. And Legoland in Billund, west Denmark! With its fabulous replicas of well- known buildings in Denmark, Legoland was the greatest thing I had seen in all my life. Was it really possible to build all that with Lego bricks? The concept of creating a coherent universe - with “educational value” added - as was the case with Legoland, sowed without any doubt the first seeds of the development we know today within the fields of toys and computer games. Everything is endowed with its own world of accessories, language, clothing, codes - you name it! Toys and computer games have become a brand of their own - a universe one wants to be part of!
Present day needs
The Lego system is good because it is robust and can be used with other toys such as Playmobil - to take one example. Lego has been developed down the years in such a way that there are Lego kits to suit every age group. However, modern technology has overtaken the broad demand for Lego bricks. Today children have other needs and challenges in an age where the computer has become an indispensable tool for education and play. But the Lego building block in all its simplicity has nonetheless been able to stay the course in an era of major technological advances. Because its simple, straightforward concept will always have something to say - also in the future.
Did you know?
Adults also play with Lego, but for some it is not really enough to build pirate ships or space rockets. On the web there are a number of websites where plays, films or literature are meticulously put into the scene by means of Lego. Thus, one can experience photo series from, among others, Shakespeare's Hamlet or the Oscar Winners, Lord of the Rings or Brokeback Mountain. Or see the Bible story interpreted in Lego at www.thebricktestament.com and judge for yourself ...
The Committee's justification
By the Committee for Design og Crafts, 2006
The Lego company was established in 1932 when Ole Kirk Christiansen began to manufacture wooden toys (although the name first came about a few years later). During the forties, the company purchased an English patent that allowed the blocks to be stacked, and in 1955, the brick idea was developed into a complete system. But the actual breakthrough occurred in 1958 when Ole’s son, Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, patented the system of small tubes and pegs in a moulded plastic block so that the blocks could be combined and built into large surfaces and masses.
The Lego blocks encourage children’s imagination and creativity. Anything can be built with Lego and it can be used with other toys. Lego is very good when you play together because you can work together to build houses and cities, airplanes, vehicles, ships and figures. If you need inspiration, you can visit Legoland in Billund, which was founded in 1968. But Lego is primarily distinguished from other blocks or building systems, by both being easy to use and being stable, where other blocks and systems can often become tiresome by either breaking apart in the middle of play or by being too complicated. From the very beginning, the system has been constantly developed so that it can fulfil widely different functions for children of different ages. While retaining the same basic principle.