Having long been enamored of building blocks both miniature and life-sized for their cool modularity and open invitation to improvise, I find this jumbo building kit from LEGO is the perfect thing for adults to play/plan/build with. Whether to envision a real-life project in small scale or simply get out of your own head for a minute, these blocks are great as an office toy or something to share with a curious, independent kid in your life.
Part of Lego’s adult-oriented Landmark and Architect lines of building sets, this Studio kit is the first to break from the rigidity of step-by-step instructional building by providing users with rich visual inspiration with no plans to follow whatsoever. The box comes with a thick, coffee table-worthy book nestled among the neatly sealed cellophane bags of pieces. The book is a fabulous intro to architecture; it offers a re-thinking of traditional ways of approaching the subject, but not quite in-depth or challenging enough as a standalone publication if you’re already a well-versed architecture buff.
The volume showcases notable examples of global architecture, from real design firms using the blocks to brainstorm projects, as well as prompts to mimic, simplify and tweak pre-existing features of skyscrapers and modernist homes:
…The book can occasionally be found online as a downloadable pdf by googling “Lego Architecture Studio pdf”. But it is MASSIVE, so is becoming increasingly rare.
Like any LEGO product, the kit isn’t a bargain buy, but it is one of those legacy brands whose products are so consistently high-quality, precise and long-lasting that I personally considered it a worthy investment.
I find myself continually building and breaking down little models that help me envision imagined, impossible spaces for my paintings.
Because all the blocks are a crisp, monochrome white or transparent, they’re particularly good for shadow studies, and because of their blunt, simplistic forms, I’m able to switch scale from imagining something intimately small to constructing entire cities or monolithic towers, all palm-sized.
I might take ten minutes to build something like this…
And use it for a quick gouache-and-watercolor sketch like this:
And because Improvised Life can never resist including the do-it-yourself route: a fabulous affordable alternative is to scour your local Craigslist and eBay listings as well as thrift stores and swap meets for bulk used blocks…I’ve found that parents whose kids have outgrown their toys are always offloading bundles of bricks for cheap. (Although, I’d encourage them to try building something themselves before getting rid of them for good…if you have some hanging out in your storage closet, maybe today’s a good day to dust them off….) Click here for an in-depth description of what’s in the original kit.
Either way you go, full kit or D-I-Y, shake up your creative practice and keep your hands busy with building blocks—they’re not just for the kiddos any longer!