Is it a box, or is it where play begins?

One of them was into building cities as a kid and couldn’t wait to get home after a family vacation to build what he had seen. For the other, LEGO play was a weekend activity with his big brother and friends. We talked to the designers Rasmus and Andreas about the IKEA and LEGO® “playdate” and designing BYGGLEK.

Imagine a floor filled with all kinds of LEGO® bricks. What do you see? Obstacles that needs to be scooped up or maybe a whole new world of creativity, waiting to be put together?

When the LEGO Group started thinking about a new storage solution they reached out to IKEA and asked for a playdate. This first collaborative workshop was when the two designers Rasmus and Andreas met. They immediately started talking about the role LEGO bricks play in a home, how we store the bricks, and how a LEGO filled floor represents different things depending on who you ask.

“Playing with LEGO bricks is such a big part of your home, so it was a good starting point to look at the whole home. And we know life at home, and we know storage,” says Andreas Fredriksson, designer at IKEA.

“LEGO bricks are not something you usually bring when visiting a friend or play with outside. It is so connected to the home; it is a home product,” says Rasmus Buch Løgstrup, Designer at the LEGO Group.

The team first looked into a storage solution, because it answers a parent’s need, but what it all became is something else. They wanted to find a solution for the whole family. BYGGLEK is more than just a box filled with LEGO bricks. The oversized white storage device is also a launchpad for your imagination.

“I remember that the discussion started with how we store LEGO bricks at home. When I was a kid building with LEGO bricks was very much play for the weekend. We stored all the bricks in a big blanket, and it was wonderful because a huge part of the play was finding the right pieces. It was play or put away. In the work with BYGGLEK we talked about how you can play and pause without spreading your project all over the floor,” says Andreas.

We asked Rasmus and Andreas to empty that BYGGLEK box at home and get creative. Scroll down to see what they came up with!

They made prototypes out of cardboard and stacked them on top of each other and decided that the box itself would be something to integrate into the play.

“A child psychologist we had on board said that if you can make a storage device that can be a part of the play, then you will succeed. I remember that IKEA suggested we mold studs on the top of the box. If you asked me then I would have said it would be impossible, but the lid of BYGGLEK ended up being one of the biggest molded items in LEGO history,” says Rasmus.

The box is made out of the same kind of high-quality materials as LEGO bricks, a material that will last for a very long time.

“You know, I still have my LEGO bricks from the ’70s. You never throw it away. You keep it or pass it on to the next generation. It is important that BYGGLEK has the same quality and the same feel,” says Andreas.

Speaking of the past. Did you play with LEGO bricks as kids?

“I played a lot with LEGO bricks and I loved building cities. I remember when we were away on a holiday, I couldn’t wait to get home to build some of the things I had seen. Once I went to the Alps with my parents and all I wanted to do was get home to start building mountains and train tracks,” says Rasmus.

“My friends and I loved playing with LEGO elements with each other, but what comes to mind now is how I was always a little jealous of my older brother because I thought everything he built looked much nicer. It was a great inspiration,” says Andreas.

Rasmus: What does he do today, your brother?

“Ha-ha, he is also a designer!”

What do you consider play today?

“As a grown-up, just renovating a house can be like a play. But there is one thing that always gets me into a playful mode, and that’s building a dam in a small creek. Sometimes when I do this with my boys, I can totally lose track of time. It is like when you were a child and simply forgot about everything else,” says Rasmus.

“For me, it is building things out of wood or metal. I started as a cabinet maker and used to have a studio before joining IKEA. I always felt it was a shame to let go of what I built because I got so attached to the pieces. I have a workshop today, and still, build quick prototypes out of wood to see the proportions. I guess that this is my play today,” says Andreas.

How does play and organize fit into your own home today?

 “When it is time for play, it should be ok to make a mess. Kids don’t see it as a mess, they see a creative environment. It’s all about changing the mindset of adults and reminding them that creativity is an ongoing process. But it is also a human need to organize. Once in a while, it is nice to clean up and actually see the floor again, but at the same time, I think it is important that you don’t do it every evening when the kids have gone to bed because that is where the play develops. It is the same thing with your own projects at home,” says Rasmus.

“My kids are teenagers and their rooms are probably more organized than our living room and kitchen. But I recently looked at photos from when they were younger, and I can tell you it was chaos on the floor. I totally agree with Rasmus, that it is nice to be able to leave it and not immediately clean up. For them, it is not a mess. For a child, it might be a huge and cool project no one can destroy. If you remove that you also might ruin the sense of play,” says Andreas.

The experience of living with kids, and playing with LEGO bricks themselves as kids, has been important in the development of BYGGLEK. The two biggest BYGGLEK sets will be flat-packed and designed so that a five-year-old can put together the box themselves.

“The good thing is that you cannot put it together the wrong way, and you don’t need any tools. You just klick it together. It is a quite unique solution,” says Rasmus.

“… and the play starts there when you assemble the boxes,” Andreas continues.

How did you decide what to include?

“At the LEGO Group we have many great models, and some of them are very complex. With BYGGLEK we wanted to make something simple and intuitive you could play with from the moment you open the box, that works for a five-year-old, or mom and dad. There are no building instructions. The box itself can be a house, a swimming pool, a sports arena. There is no right or wrong. Then, of course, we added some play starters,” says Rasmus.

What is a play starter?

“The play starters help your imagination. We added some food items and minifigures to kickstart a play. We have a ‘life at home’ theme, and the play starters are not far from your daily life,” says Rasmus.

Looking at BYGGLEK now, anything you are especially happy with?

“The fact that you can build from the inside or outside. Including the box in the play lets you build something big really fast. Can’t wait to see what people will come up with,” says Andreas.

“It fits within the LEGO System in play, just like all our sets. When developing products, we want to ensure that kids and families can mix and match their LEGO sets as far as their imagination takes them,” says Rasmus.

Andreas: A hot dog quest

We asked the two designers to create a world at home using BYGGLEK. This is what Andreas, designer at IKEA did.

“I wanted to build something really tall, and with BYGGLEK I can! I sent my two characters on a dangerous quest, to reach the magic hot dog on the top.”
“Watch out for the guy on the balcony, the evil hot dog and blocks falling from the top.” 
“Finally, the monster lost the battle and the tasty treat is within reach. A hot dog!”

Rasmus: Creative creature village

We asked the two designers to create a world at home using BYGGLEK. This is what Rasmus, designer at LEGO Group did.

I enjoy creating strange creatures. They can live inside the boxes or in a village created on top of a box. This one on the top will probably be a mix between a giraffe and a sheep.”
“I’m playing with my son Hugo, he is a great building buddy! Here we are discussing whether these characters are preparing a party or a fight on the rooftop!”
“This blue guy here is the mayor of the box village – he is wearing the important black hat. I’m just taking a breather in the chair for a while, which actually also gives me a better overview of our creations.”
“We needed a chef to feed all these people and creatures. He makes hot dogs and fried cheese. We also created a bridge between two groups of boxes so food can easily be delivered from place to place.”
“One brick set and 3-4 boxes! I like how the boxes can help create level into a proper little village. It’s really great to have this creative experience with my son, where we came up with backstories for all the characters.”

BYGGLEK will be in stores, October 2020.