Back in October 2008, I had the pleasure of spending some time with writer Jonathan Bender during BrickCon, who at the time was working on a book about adult fans of LEGO. A year and a half later, LEGO: A Love Story is out from Wiley.
I’ll let one of our other contributors do a more formal book review, but Jonathan’s book is that rare story about a hobby that’s actually about a whole lot more. It’s about how a deceptively simple children’s toy brings people together, as has become painfully self-evident over this past week, but it’s also as much about growing up yourself.
The Brothers Brick is pleased to bring our readers an excerpt from this new book.
I never expected to come face-to-face with my worst nightmare at LEGO headquarters, but there it is: a snarling red dragon — the namesake of the roller coaster at LEGOLAND. A 3-D model of the LEGO dragon is dissected into parts on the designer Jette Skovgaard Jensen’s computer monitor.
“That’s only the second roller coaster I’ve been on in my life. I’m a chicken,” I tell Jette as she walks me through how the model was built.
“I’m chicken too. I can’t look. But the challenge of something when it’s for LEGOLAND — we have to think about the whole family, like how to make it cool for a twelve – year-old and not too scary for a three-year-old,” says Jette. I ignore that I’m more than ten times the age she is trying not to scare.
She has the trendy glasses and spiky red hair of a designer in the 3-D Model Center. We’re at her desk inside Havremarken, the LEGO offices adjacent to the manufacturing plant. The building immediately makes me think of a Google campus, with employees on scooters whizzing by basketball hoops and table tennis tables in the hallways. The environment is certainly creative. A massively over-scaled red LEGO fire truck sits between cubicles, and nearly every employee’s workspace is decorated with a LEGO set or miniﬁg.
I’m trying to get a sense of who the people are behind the brick creations I’ve been surrounded with for the past several days. Jette is a second-generation LEGO employee. She grew up in Billund, while her dad worked as a technician on the electronics and structural supports for the models that her mom glued.
“When I was a kid, I remember coming in the doors, it was very open. I thought I might leave Billund, but I was afraid. And here it was also easy to get a job once you are inside the company,” says Jette.
And yes, Nathan Sawaya built the book cover.