The LEGO Idea Studio was a center for developing and demonstrating hands-on experiences of learning through play and the LEGO Idea. Housed in the very first LEGO factory in Billund Denmark, the LIS acted as a workshop space and design studio; leveraging workshops to rapidly test new designs; and leveraging the messiness and presence of new designs to demonstrate the playful nature of design explorations.
The LEGO Idea Studio was started in fall 2016 by Amos Blanton as a part of the Center for Creativity Play and Learning at the LEGO Foundation. I joined the studio in April 2017 and took over as the studio director in summer 2019.
The LEGO Idea
The guiding principles for both facilitation and design was this especially nice piece of corporate rhetoric: the LEGO Idea. Summing up decades of writing about LEGO play, the paragraph concisely states what makes the blocks so special. In the picture to the right, you can see Amos highlighting certain parts of the LEGO Idea – and hiding the words “With the LEGO Bricks” to say that the qualities are not unique to LEGO.
“we can build anything we can possibly imagine“
It’s not about building the picture on the box, but about exploring one’s own ideas. It’s an open-ended material for play – not a puzzle with a singular right answer.
“we are not only creating, but also evaluating, reflecting and recreating“
This part points to process-over-product, supporting children’s creative development through creative play, the importance of iteration.
“We learn through play in a self motivated and fun way.“
Playful learning, no matter what the subject matter in focus, situates learning as a fun and intrinsically motivating experience.
Workshops at the studio were largely held for partners of the LEGO Foundation. Giving partners, perhaps unfamiliar to the nuances of playful learning, a chance to play and feel the frustrations and triumphs of tinkering that are impossible to summarize.
Workshops typically followed the same loose structure: short introduction, play, reflective discussion, and sometimes a lecture.
Records of the design explorations conducted at the studio can be found on Twitter. We published all of our ongoing work on that account to invite input from formal and informal collaborators from all over the world. To see those
As of Jan 2021, most of these are placeholders. If you want to learn more about one of these projects, reach out and ask – I’m always happy to talk.