Bricks World Storemaster interviews Jamie Berard, the Design Lead for the LEGO Creator Expert Series about 10243 The Parisian Restaurant. (May 2014)
Read what he has to say about ‘Chez Albert’, becoming a LEGO designer and his favourite LEGO bricks…
Q)How long did it take from initial concept to completion of the Parisian Restaurant and was this usual for a Modular set?
A)From concept to packaged set, the Parisian Restaurant took about a year to complete.
Q)How much work went into getting that French Architecture facade on the top floor to look so good - and where did the inspiration come from to use white croissants!?
A)The idea for the croissants detail actually came from our initial work on 10185 Green Grocer. That detail as well as the feathers along the facade didn’t quite work for that model. Instead of tossing them out, I put them at the edge of my table with the hope of someday working them into another model. When the time came to make the Parisian Restaurant, they finally made sense and made it in.
Q)What is the background behind the name for the restaurant, “Chez Albert”?
A)I pretty much grew up in my mom & dad’s restaurant. My dad was the chef and Albert is his middle name.
Q)The Modular Series has a loyal fan following. How do you see this hugely popular series evolving over the next 5-10years?
A)I’d like to think the series has evolved quite a bit already. We’ve gone from 10182 Cafe Corner with no interior--but a lovely green carpet on the lower floor ;) to modulars with bits of interior and story-starters to the Parisian Restaurant which has a wonderful mix of details both inside and out. We would like to continue making modulars that offer the complete LEGO experience. Hopefully the fans agree and will keep supporting the series.
Q)In 2012 you were asked in an interview what Modular you were working on you, to which you replied it was a secret but “I’m not a very good cook. I once managed to burn soup!”. We think it must have been French Onion Soup! Can you share any secrets with us on the next Modular you are working on?
A)This one makes me smile. I know some people will find this hard to believe, but that answer was not a hint at the next modular. If I talk about future products, it’s usually in reference to the 7-foot tall remote control purple penguin that we’ve been working on for the last 8 years.
Q)A Minifigure from the Modular Series has yet to win the “Bricks World Minifig of the Month award”. Neither, in fact, has a City Minifig – we threw this challenge to Ricco Krog (the Design Director for LEGO City) and he accepted our challenge. Would you and your team like to accept the challenge aswell?
A)As much as we love the minifigure, we see the building details as the main attraction for the Modular line. We’ve chosen to release hard to find elements and bricks in rare colors that fans can’t get in many other sets instead of using our efforts on minifigure prints. Also, by using the classic smiley and using existing minifigure parts, we’re trying to highlight the versatility of the system and prove that no element is limited in its usage.
Q)The route you took to becoming a LEGO designer was different to other LEGO designers. What advice can you give AFOLs who would want to follow your path?
A)I would say get a good education and document your growth as a builder. The competition is much greater today to get hired than when I joined the team. It’s really important to stand out and show a little personality. Study design and learn about the design approach to problem solving. It will definitely help you should you work with us some day.
Q)And finally, the most important question of all. What is your favourite LEGO brick and why?
A) It varies depending on which project I work on. I’m definitely a big fan of the ‘jumper’ plate, the mini ball-joints, angle plates, minifigure accessories, the ‘erling’ and any elements that let you flip the building system on its head.