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SoF - Eurobricks Interview With The Friends Designers!


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#1 Pandora

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 09:26 PM

Recently the Eurobricks team were lucky enough to have some questions about the Friends line answered by the Friends Designers themselves.  

Hot off the press, here are the questions we asked, and the answers they gave us:


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General Questions:

Where did the idea for the Friends theme come from?

From intensive research with girls around the world for the past 4 years.
We found out that girls are very thrilled with playing out everyday life stories.
Friendship, relationships with friends, animals and family is important to them.
We also found out how important characters are to girls in the play. It is important that there are figures in the products that girls can identify with, and the reason why we have the 5 different LEGO Friends figures with different looks and different personalities in the Universe.

Did you consider using the standard minifigure?

Actually we started with designing models with the existing minifigures, but when we tested with the girls, they kept telling us that they were not appealing to them. And we also realized how important figures are for the girls play. When girls play they project themselves onto the figures they are playing with, making the figure beautiful and feminine means it is easier for the girls to relate to.

How did you come up with the idea and design for the minidoll?

After we found out that the minifigure did not work for most of the girls, we simply started with designing different concepts of figures with different looks and different types of functionality.
We learned that it is a must that figures are beautiful. It was also important to us that the figure had recognizable LEGO DNA. This meant that the figures should have almost the same functionality as the minifugure, but also features like the hands should be recognizably LEGO. The modularity of the figure is also important and girls really like that they can change the figures hair, they like to change the figures parts like torsos and legs so that they can wear different clothes.

Why and how did you choose the colour scheme?

It has been a strategic decision from the very beginning to develop colorful models based on the existing LEGO color palette plus 6 new colors we added so that it would be possible for us to create models with great tone and tone in tone patterns with fresh/bright girly appeal.
We have tested the colour schemes of the models a lot with girls, the colours are another way to make the models beautiful and detailed. Aesthetics are extremely important for girls, and the way we design the models with different colors has to be just right to support the different themes. We also strive to have classic LEGO colours such as the red and the yellow in the models, mixing these with the more qirly palette creates the unique feeling of LEGO Friends models.


Individual Questions:

Tell us a bit about yourself, what is your role in the Friends team?

Fenella, Senior Designer in the LEGO Friends team, I have worked on model building and element design from the beginning of LEGO Friends. Some of the models I have designed include the Vet, the Camper van, Stephanie’s Car as well as the Riding School. I am English, from the south of England and I studied product design in London at Brunel University.

Rosario, Design Director of LEGO Friends, people manager and art direction focus.
Portuguese, studied Design in Portugal and Denmark. Been working at LEGO for 14 years.

How long have you been working for LEGO? Have you worked in other LEGO departments?

Fenella- Creator, where I was lucky enough to design the Green Car and some of the minis.

Rosario- Belville, Duplo, Creator, Boys Playthemes ( Spider Man, Movie Maker/Steven Speilberg, Monsters), Mindstorms, Technic.

What did you have in mind for each character?

As mentioned above, the characters have been designed based on lots of inputs from girls around the world through intensive research. We know that it is important to give girls the choice to play out stories with different types of characters that they can either identify with or play with. The characters have different personalities, likes and dislikes, just like girls in the real world.

Which Friends character best encapsulates you?

Fenella – In my work life I relate to Emma as she loves the details and designing. Outside of work I relate to Stephanie as I love baking cakes and arranging parties for my friends!

Rosario- actually all of them, because there is always something in each character personality that I like or can identify with.

What is your vision for Friends?

LEGO Friends will be a classic product line within the LEGO portfolio for many years to come, just like LEGO City.
So yes, we are planning new LEGO Friends products, but I cannot tell you what it will be ☺ I am sure you understand.

Eurobricks would like to say a BIG thank you to both Fenella and Rosario for kindly answering our questions, and also a big thank you to Jan Beyer for putting us in contact with them for the interview. :sweet:
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#2 Praiter Yed

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 10:05 PM

Interesting interview. I find it a little ironic that there were cries of stereotyping and sexism when the Friends line was launched but Lego's research shows 'girly' colours and beauty are what girls actually want. I wonder if it's parents themselves that steer their kids towards sexual stereotyping by sticking them in pink or blue rooms when they are babies? :look:

Friends has finally got my daughter into Lego which is a testament to the appeal of the product, but sadly she seems more intent on collecting the figures than actually building the models (as I type that I realise that's more or less the same as me  :hmpf_bad: )

Edited by Praiter Yed, 29 August 2012 - 10:07 PM.

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#3 lightningtiger

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 10:25 PM

I agree a very interesting interview, now we can see why the designs are more creator than city based....though the bit about minifigs and girls not preferring them.....yeah, in Oz girls don't care if it's minifig or minidoll...they just love Lego ! :wink:

#4 Grimmy

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 10:28 PM

My niece who is 9, always liked lego but never into as much to even pick out & really ask for a set like she now does with friends.  I even took her to the first Lego Friends Club Meeting.  She enjoyed it too.  They gave her the shirt and a nice take home bag. It was fun, my only complaint was that I don't understand why they didn't put a table out, they build on the ground floor, and help them a little more.  Everyone was very friendly.  Has anyone wrote a post on how the first meeting was?  Maybe I should.

I notice the Director is Portuguese.  I'm Portuguese too. :)  Living in the US. Born here.

#5 Legogal

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 10:59 PM

I am both thrilled and amazed at how well Friends' sales are going. Finally all of us (adults, kids, and teens) have choices that reflect more feminine qualities.
It is fantastic seeing how many adults of both sexes are building with Friends' parts and figures.
All I can say is a huge THANK YOU to LEGO for making these designs and colors available.
After many years of collecting pastel color pieces at high prices, it is a thrill to see so many wonderful colors and designs in Friends' sets.
Please keep those new sets coming out the door for those of us who favor a kindler, gentler world.

#6 purpleparadox

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 10:59 PM

Very interesting. :classic: I like the models, variety of colours, and concept, of the Friends theme. I just really wish they'd gone with minifigs instead of minidolls! :tongue: Then again, as a male AFOL I don't think my opinion matters much to TLG in this case. :laugh:

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#7 Legogal

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 11:08 PM

Purple,
It seems that many folks are using regular minifigs in their Friends' type builds, and there is no requirement that you use the Friends' "minidolls." I think that both kinds of figures look wonderful, and use whichever one best fits the setting.
Many females are not into knights, Ninjago, ghosts, pirates, cowboys, and the other 99 per cent of LEGO minifigs, so this just adds some fantastic choices and variety for those gals.  
it is interesting seeing how many males enjoy building with minidolls...that is so sweet! Their (potential) daughters will love them even more for being open to playing with minidolls.  Cheers!

#8 SheepEater

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 11:20 PM

I'd like to talk to a Megabloks manager tomorrow to ask him if they got the Barbie license specifically to compete with Friends, see what he responds

#9 purpleparadox

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Posted 29 August 2012 - 11:21 PM

View PostLegogal, on 29 August 2012 - 11:08 PM, said:

Purple,
It seems that many folks are using regular minifigs in their Friends' type builds, and there is no requirement that you use the Friends' "minidolls." I think that both kinds of figures look wonderful, and use whichever one best fits the setting.
Many females are not into knights, Ninjago, ghosts, pirates, cowboys, and the other 99 per cent of LEGO minifigs, so this just adds some fantastic choices and variety for those gals.  
Oh, I know. :wink: I prefer to use minifigs but I'm OK with using minidolls if it's more appropraite for the situation. :shrug_oh_well: I guess I'd just rather have Friends minifigs, to boost my female fig collection. :laugh:

View PostLegogal, on 29 August 2012 - 11:08 PM, said:

it is interesting seeing how many males enjoy building with minidolls...that is so sweet! Their (potential) daughters will love them even more for being open to playing with minidolls.  Cheers!
It is great that we can use variety...LEGO "cultural diversity", if you will. :classic: My young sister loves Polly Pockets, Barbies, minidolls, and the like, so I often "play LEGO Friends" with her. :sweet: I don't think anything can make me happier right now than seeing her grow, learn, play, and create. I'm thankful to Friends for encouraging that!

I hope you didn't get the wrong idea about me or my opinion, based on my former post. I love the theme, and all of it's benefits! Friends on, everybody.

Edited by purpleparadox, 29 August 2012 - 11:23 PM.

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#10 vexorian

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 12:49 AM

View PostPraiter Yed, on 29 August 2012 - 10:05 PM, said:

Interesting interview. I find it a little ironic that there were cries of stereotyping and sexism when the Friends line was launched but Lego's research shows 'girly' colours and beauty are what girls actually want.
Such a research is sexist by nature. So, that's the ironic part, I guess?

#11 Gryphon Ink

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 01:31 AM

View PostPraiter Yed, on 29 August 2012 - 10:05 PM, said:

Interesting interview. I find it a little ironic that there were cries of stereotyping and sexism when the Friends line was launched but Lego's research shows 'girly' colours and beauty are what girls actually want.

I hope not to rehash the whole protracted debate about the Friends controversy, but the market research proves nothing except that girls of that age (whatever ages the test group were) are already "programmed" to be interested in those things.  You have to understand that society is working on creating gender dichotomy literally from the second a baby is born.  Almost all girls in Western society grow up in an environment that teaches them to value beauty, grooming, and certain colors.  Almost all boys in the same societies get their own version of color programming, and are taught to value competition, strategy and strength.  By the time girls hit Lego's target age, they understand very well that if they prefer green and black to pink and purple, or if they'd rather be warriors and mechanics than princesses and beauty queens, society at large will see them as freaks.  This mindset eventually gets internalized and stays very dominant in the majority of girls and young women.

By the same token, it's hard to find a five-year-old boy who will admit that he likes the color pink, because people have been telling all boys from the day they were born that real boys and men don't like anything pink.  So if you were to do market research on a group of 5YO boys, the research would "prove" that boys don't like pink.

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I wonder if it's parents themselves that steer their kids towards sexual stereotyping by sticking them in pink or blue rooms when they are babies?

Parents have a big part in it, but they aren't the only players.  School, daycare workers, friends and their parents, extended family, TV, books, toy manufacturers and random strangers on the street all play a part in creating and reinforcing gender stereotypes.  Sometimes, if their opinions are consistent across the board, their influence can actually be stronger than that of the parents.
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#12 Si-MOCs

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 03:30 AM

Neat little interview!

Great idea, and fantastic to get some insight into the through process  :thumbup:
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#13 streifen

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 05:47 AM

Great interview!

Interviews/articles on the behind-the-scenes are always interesting to read/refer to. Give us, or at least me, a chance to put a face/voice to the people behind what has intrigued us.

:laugh:  :thumbup:
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#14 Ferrik

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 06:43 AM

It's interesting to hear about all the information about Friends, and the views of the designers. :wink: It was great to know how the Mini-doll concept started.
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#15 LegoMyMamma

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 12:55 PM

Great exclusive insight addition to SoF!

At the end of the day, it is irrelevant whether girls influenced society or society (culture, parents, schools, products, etc.) influenced the girls -- what is crucial here is that more girls are building with LEGO bricks than ever before!





#16 TheLegoDr

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 05:41 PM

Thanks for the interview. Gives us an insider's look to the theme. Granted we already knew a lot of that, just not specifics about the designers themselves.

I would have been happier with more female mini-figures, but I suppose the mini-dolls work too. Them being a "doll" definitely would appeal to the young girl, but the only thing I would fear is how "skinny" they look compared to the fuller-figured mini-figure. Obviously people are shaped differently and Lego/Friends figures are in no way proportionate to human beings, but something to note.

Also, I've read articles that Pink was actually for boys originally and blue being more dainty was for girls. Interesting how times have changed. Here is a link to the article that talks about it. I don't know all of the specifics, but interesting nonetheless.
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#17 Arigomi

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 07:34 PM

It's good to hear that they are committed to making Friends a staple theme.

#18 Pandora

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Posted 30 August 2012 - 07:41 PM

View PostArigomi, on 30 August 2012 - 07:34 PM, said:

It's good to hear that they are committed to making Friends a staple theme.
Absolutely; this was what caught my eyes the most:

View PostPandora, on 29 August 2012 - 09:26 PM, said:

Quote

LEGO Friends will be a classic product line within the LEGO portfolio for many years to come, just like LEGO City.
So yes, we are planning new LEGO Friends products, but I cannot tell you what it will be ☺ I am sure you understand.
Good news for Friends fans. :sweet:
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#19 Holodoc

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Posted 31 August 2012 - 02:43 PM

Nive little inerview, indeed. Thank you for sharing it with us.

The results of friends can be seen in the sales dates: Friends is selling like hot cakes and the expectations were exceeded by far!

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The Group sold twice as many LEGO Friends sets as expected during the first six months of the year.
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View PostPandora, on 30 August 2012 - 07:41 PM, said:

Good news for Friends fans. Posted Image
I wonder what they will come out with? It looks like the major girls themes are covered with the 2nd wave. :look:
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