Kids Who Grow Up And Work For Lego

My son is mad about Lego and is interested in architecture and 3D design.

He doesn’t have to try, this just comes naturally to him and it seems to be his talent.

However I realize he is only 10 and things tend to change around ages 12 or 13, though most of us never really lose our basic interests, they just become re-prioritized.

But I am a bit of a dreamer and always interested in those kids who take their childhood interests and talents into adulthood and so when I came across an article about a young man who was doing just that with Lego I had to take a read.

Jordan Schwartz is now 18 but never lost his childhood love for building and designing with Lego, he just used his growing skills in design, communication and combined it with maturity to showcase his designs on the web and travel to Lego shows around the world.

Today he is spending a year interning at Lego HQ in Billund Denmark as part of their Product Design Team.

Jordan’s story is inspiring for me as a parent to encourage my son to follow a similar course in sharing his creations and interacting with the Lego community if he shows a “grown up” interest in following a design career.

Here is the article:

Jordan Schwartz’ fascination with LEGOs earns him internship in Denmark

Rapunzels Tower

Rapunzels Tower © Jordan Schwartz

Growing up in East Providence, Jordan Schwartz knew what he wanted to do with his life.

His mother, Lisa, says that while recently going through some old papers in their house she came across an elementary-school essay by Jordan, in which he wrote that he would become the CEO of the LEGO company.

“I’m going to build with blocks someday for a living!” he wrote.

Well, he’s not CEO yet, but Schwartz, 18, is spending the year in Billund, Denmark, working for LEGO as a designer, creating the building blocks for the dreams of today’s kids — and adults, too.

When Jordan was 3 years old, his oldest brother, Ben, got a LEGO set. Jordan joined in immediately. “I started building voraciously,” he remembers. “And of course, being his younger brother, I looked up to him and wanted to be like him.

So I got into LEGO, as did my twin (Alex). So at one point my mom had to buy three of every set. And eventually, they both stopped, so I had this massive collection.”

It continued from there, says Jordan, a graduate of Our Lady of Fatima High School in Warren: “It’s usually around 12 or 13 that kids start to wean off LEGO and move on to other things. But I kept building.”

He began displaying his creations online (at www.brickstud.com), writing for the LEGO-fan publication BrickJournal and going to LEGO-related conventions, where he got the rock-star treatment, Lisa Schwartz remembers.

“Everyone was coming up to him” to congratulate him on his work, she says. “They never realized he was just a kid online.… Some people were shaking my hand, as the parent.”

She says she didn’t realize the depth of his talent. “I thought everything he built was really cute, but I didn’t realize how people focused in on it — these adult fans of LEGO, and the artistic quality of it.”

Jordan, who has taken a leave of absence from the Massachusetts College of Art, is designing LEGO sets and products, the first of which will come out next year. He can’t say exactly what it is, but says he’s working on the Creator and LEGO Direct lines. In the Creator line, each set has a main model that can be built, along with two alternate designs. “I think it’s the soul of LEGO, because it represents what LEGO is all about.”

LEGO Direct is a line of big sets aimed at adult fans, and run between $100 and $200. “They’re very complex and intricate. I come from the fan community, so they needed a fan to work on stuff for the fans.”

While LEGO has mushroomed in complexity and detail over the decades, Jordan says that the Bricks and More line is just “tubs of bricks.” “I don’t think more elements restricts creativity. They’re not taking away the basic stuff; they’re just adding to it. There’s no such thing as a useless element; you just gotta build a lot.”

Jordan builds a lot. Or he used to. Now, he doesn’t have a lot of time for his own creations, what with working on new products all day. “I can come in on the weekends and build for myself, which I’ve done a couple of times.” He says that creating new stuff and building with existing blocks are two different things — “it’s night and day. There’s no way I could produce the stuff I build for myself; it’s too delicate.”

He wouldn’t be the first person who, faced with working day-to-day on his avocation, finds that he doesn’t want to make it his professional life. But he says it’s too early to think about that — he’s only been there three months. “The novelty hasn’t worn off yet. So far I’m pretty happy doing this, and I’m lucky to get paid to do it.”

He hopes it’ll lead to full employment — “so far they’re happy with my work, so that’s good” — but on the other hand, he’s still only 18 and has visions of finishing college, earning a degree in architecture or industrial design. He could leave for four years for college and then try to come back, but a lot will have changed, he says. “The company’s always changing and it’s always evolving. So hopefully I can work something out. … I’ve got a lot to think about.”

Lisa says she told him, “If they ask you, just do it while you’re young. And then you can always go to school. He’s very smart anyway. Whatever makes him happy; he should follow his passion.”

The biggest adjustment so far has been living on his own. “I don’t want to say my parents did everything for me, but there were a lot of nitty-gritty little things that I didn’t have to worry about. And now I have to do everything for myself. I couldn’t cook a thing when I came over here; I learned very quickly how to cook.”

He hopes his family will visit him over the summer, when he has a couple of weeks off, but also aims to come back to Rhode Island, perhaps for a holiday.”

Source: http://www.projo.com/lifebeat/content/CONNECT-LEGO_KID_03-22-11_53N1C6V_v19.73c578.html

Writer: rmassimo@projo.com

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