LEGO is one of our favourite brands and we recently had the exciting opportunity to go behind the scenes, seeing how their building sets come to life.
Head Of Design at LEGO Core Matthew Ashton, alongside Creative Design Lead Amy Corbett, caught up with Zavvi to discuss their LEGO careers and the creative magic that goes into each of their designs.
Introduce yourselves to the readers.
MATTHEW: I’m Matthew Ashton, Head Of Design at the LEGO Group. I oversee our Core product lines which is all the stuff that remains in our portfolio long term, such as LEGO City, Friends, Classic, and Creator.
AMY: I’m Amy Corbett, a Design Lead at the LEGO Group. I’ve been running the LEGO Dots project for many years with a wonderful team of designers. I really love working on brand new projects and play experiences, bringing them to kids.
So, how did you first get into LEGO?
AMY: My family had that big bucket of bricks in the living room! I have a brother that’s two years younger than me and he was into LEGO – he had a pirate ship and a castle. That bucket of bricks was what brought us together to create our own stories, we could build whatever.
I kind of fell out of it when I became a teenager, I didn’t necessarily feel that there was a LEGO offering at the time that connected with me. It wasn’t until I got my job at the LEGO Group that I got back into building – I’m now a fan-girl!
MATTHEW: I did play with LEGO as a kid – me, my brother, and sister were all keen LEGO fans. I remember having a lightbulb moment as a child watching the movie Big and playing with my brother’s classic space LEGO, putting two and two together, realising I wanted to be a toy designer.
But I didn’t know any toy designers, I didn’t know how to study it, it’s what Santa’s helpers do! So, I parked that idea and studied fashion design because I wanted to do something creative.
At an exhibition where I had done a miniature version of my catwalk collection on a popular fashion doll, some LEGO head-hunters spotted me and offered me a job. Little eight/nine-year-old me managed to get his dream job, which is amazing!
How did you start your LEGO Group career Amy?
AMY: In school I enjoyed maths, science, and art so I was really torn about what to study afterwards. I found a course called Product Design Engineering which combined both.
On that course, every time I got a technical engineering project I would always twist it to be something fun or playful as I enjoyed designing that. It’s where I’d get the best grades and be happiest so someone said to me, ‘maybe you should do this for a living, make playful designs’.
I made a list of the companies I’d like to work for with LEGO being at the top, and luckily they had a job opening at that point, looking for my profile. I joined as a Junior Designer in LEGO Friends almost ten years ago – since then I’ve worked on different projects and jobs, it’s been a journey.
I imagine every single day is different, but what does a typical one look like at the LEGO Group?
AMY: Every day is different, which I love, but I can describe my perfect day, which is working with my design team, looking at products, developing new ideas.
We might have a brainstorm in the morning and then in the afternoon we are building, getting hands-on with the bricks, working together to figure it out. We do have a lot of days like that, there’s a lot of collaboration, working with the bricks, and throwing ideas out.
MATTHEW: It’s the same for me as what I love about my job is the variety. Some days is very hands-on working with the design team, then the next is helping out with the art direction, and after that we might be filming an episode of LEGO Masters or working on the LEGO movies.
It’s been really inspiring to work on something that you have a lot of knowledge about, transferring that to an entirely different industry, working with a new bunch of creative people who come at things from a different angle, creating something together.
Which set that you have designed is a personal highlight?
AMY: For me, it’s one of the LEGO Friends sets that I worked on. It’s a product line that’s super close to my heart, it’s where I started, and what I would have loved to play with when I was younger, it maybe would have kept me building LEGO for longer.
The set is the ski cabin that I made – I had just been on my first ever skiing holiday with my friends, learning how to ski, and I absolutely loved it.
I captured all that fun that we had in the model when I got home. The team were very nice and made a little character called Amy in that set, so it is a really special one for me. I still have it proudly on my shelf at home and on my desk at work.
MATTHEW: Mine is a set I designed called ‘Everyone Is Awesome’ which is a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community.
It was a very simple build, more of a display piece, but it had an important message that everybody is special in their own way, and we should look out for each other. It’s the one that I feel has been the most impactful and the one I’m most proud of.
Read the full conversation with Matthew and Amy in the latest edition of our digital magazine The Lowdown. Get your free copy here.