@Brutesinlego – Building In Concrete
One Lego Brick At A Time
Toon Welling and his children Felix and Elsa have a thing about
Brutalist Architecture and love of
Lego bricks in shades of grey.
Recognise the craving for concrete? Then @brutusinlego is for you!
This is totally up our street and when we found @brutusinlego on Instagram, Greyscape had to catch up with lead designer, Dutch dad-creative from Utrect, Toon and his young collaborators #elsawithdots and #felixiraptor
Our curiosity was peaked, how did a Product Designer translate his innate design knowledge into simple but oh so smart child-friendly Lego designs, think a sort of ABC of brutalism for kids?
‘I have always been passionate about making things that enable an almost seamless interaction with users, creating a sense of possibility and enhancing their creativity. I enjoy inventing things, whether that means helping families develop meaningful rituals, designing furniture for adults or children, or building electronic musical instruments for people of any age. Playing with Lego with my kids gives me even more pleasure!’
Your dream Lego project?
‘The dream would, of course, be to keep playing with Lego, both with my kids and sometimes without them. I would also love to build bigger brutalist structures (maybe even design an original brutalist architecture Lego set) or perhaps a whole dystopian city. This would take a lot more Lego, space, and time than we have right now though. It would be very cool to publish a Brutes In Lego book someday, of course, but I mainly hope to be able to show more people our homemade Lego constructions’.
Why brutalist architecture?
‘I first fell in love with Brutalism in early 2000 when I was working in a photography store. My colleagues there Roel Backaert and Wouter Stelwagen (we’ve added the link at the bottom for these two talented photographers) made me look at the built environment in a new way. Opening my eyes to the beauty of concrete and giving me a taste for brutalism, the love started there and is still growing. I guess playing with Lego reminded me of the greatness of these structures.
Do you have a favourite brutalist building?
‘There are so many great ones. But if I have to pick just one it would have the be this “Spomenik”:
Will you ever break out from the grey-shades?
‘We do have and use many multi-coloured Lego bricks in our non-Insta builds, but I imagine @Brutesinlego will largely remain in grayscale, though I can imagine using some coloured accents, at some point’.
‘I’ve always had a tendency to look for the weird or underappreciated, finding beauty and joy in them, whether it’s odd 1970s horror movies, 8-bit music, or now, brutalist architecture. There is something attractive to the rough-and-ready aesthetics of these art forms that moves me in a very primal way, and I hope our grayscale reconstructions move other people in a similar way.’
Has the De Stijl movement had an impact on your designs?
Living in Utrecht “de Stijl” is present all around, its modernist minimalism is, I think, present in my work, whether it is in furniture design or the Dato DUO
De Stijl Diagonals….yes or no?
Yes if used for construction, no if they are merely there for decoration.
Can you tell us about your Dato DUO synthesizer for children?
It’s an instrument for making electronic music together. It doesn’t matter what age you are or whether you know how to play any instrument at all, the DUO can be played by anyone! My colleague David and I designed the DUO to play together with our kids, who love synths as much as we do.
Any recommendations for that ‘Odd 1970s horror film’?
One of my absolute favourites would be the first Sleepaway Camp from 1983, a slasher horror in which the cast gets picked off in surprising and interesting ways, and it keeps you on the edge of your seat until the end! If you never seen it and like old horror movies this one is a must!
Find Toon and the gang at www.instagram.com/brutesinlego
Toons early inspirers: