Trying Out For Team Lego

Fall Arrives in Lego Town.  Credit: Author

Fall Arrives in Lego Town.
Credit: Author

I always wondered how Lego located engineers to design its brilliant product line (according to WSJ, it is the second largest toy manufacturer by revenue behind Mattel). The building-brick toy company only recently unveiled its interview process:

In one exercise—creating a set that combines medieval- and space-themed Lego sets—plastic bags of Lego bricks and minifigures were distributed—and quickly ripped apart—as participants got to work sitting at tables or spreading out on the blue-carpeted floor. Some began by sketching with colored pens, while others immediately started clicking together the plastic bricks, trying out their ideas as they worked.

They had two and a half hours to come up with a Lego toy concept. Nobody spoke, and, aside from the clicking of plastic bricks and the sound of the occasional airplane taking off from the nearby airport, the group operated in silence. Senior Lego designers observed them and scribbled notes.

Candidates were judged not only on the concept but also on elements such as the designs’ color schemes and buildability. Not to mention the elusive element of fun. “You need to think in a way that adds a little bit of humor to a product or a character or a story, and that’s very important for us,” says Mr. Thorogood. The way contestants interacted with each other was also noted.

Those who survive the final cut will not be entrusted with design responsibility right away:

It takes training for a designer to create a set that is properly priced, targets the right age group and fits in the Lego portfolio, among other considerations. Typically, new hires will work alongside a Lego designer for a year before being charged with creating a small set.

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