Wherever you are, it is impossible not to see it. An imposing tree stands in the heart of the Joseph Gallery (Paris 3). A squirrel housed in a cavity, a woodpecker drumming on the 3.20m high trunk, this sculpture is full of life… and is made entirely from Lego bricks. It took 500,000 and 900 man-hours to design The tree of longevitycenterpiece of 90 years of creativity dedicated to the famous Danish brand.

The anniversary exhibition opened its doors on 6 July, in an area of ​​850 m² and two floors. The opportunity to retrace the history of this toy empire, brick by brick.

From a wooden duck to Harry Potter

Founded in 1932 by Danish carpenter Ole Kirk Christiansen, Lego was initially a wooden toy company. His first product? A duck on wheels. A collector’s item visible for the first time in France and which never fails to surprise visitors.

It was later, in 1958 that Godtfred, on an idea of ​​his father Ole, filed the patent for the interlocking Lego brick as we know it. The Lego system was born and with it the most famous brick on the toy market – the parts produced at the time are still compatible with those produced in 2022 …

In 1978 the first minifigures were born and with them the first thematic ranges: Lego Castle And Lego Space, which remain in the current catalog of the brand. Over the decades, the licenses have multiplied. The universes of Star Wars, Harry Potter Where is it ninjagoamong others, they were entitled to their own versions in Lego …

Children, adults, artists

Back to the exhibition. Under the watchful eye of his grandmother, Sacha, 5, tries to build a dragon in ninety seconds: the challenge is proposed by the animators of the gallery. “Lego is a family story, says Marie-Jeanne, 76, my son used to play with his bucket of bricks when he was a child and today it is my grandson who has collected them and has fun with them. “

Make no mistake, not all adults have stopped construction. The Afol [pour Adults Fans Of Lego] they represent 20% of the brand’s turnover. The various dioramas on display were also designed by building associations such as Ch’ti Lug or Brisy. These models are rich in detail and references that immerse visitors in the corridors of Hogwarts in search of the Chamber of Secrets or in the trenches of the Battle of Hoth between the Rebels and the Galactic Empire …

The brand also inspires contemporary artists who deflect the primary use of bricks. Works to which Lego and the Joseph gallery grant a space that allows the public to discover universes overflowing with creativity, such as that of Jan Vormann, a Franco-German sculptor who “repairs” terracotta walls with very colored bricks.

Bricks and environment

“We have to take care of the builders of tomorrow and the world they evolve into”, slips a 20 minutess Carole Guck, communications manager for Lego France. The exhibition, which obviously serves in part as a marketing showcase, is an opportunity for the company to highlight its commitments in terms of diversity, accessibility – particularly with Braille bricks – and environmental responsibility.

In 2014, Lego ended its commercial partnership with the oil company Shell. Since then, the Danish brand has replaced the plastic packaging of its boxes with recycled paper bags or has produced bricks from sugarcane from sustainable sources, measures that marginally reduce its environmental cost. His goal, he says, is to offer bricks made from sustainable plastic by 2030 and limit their environmental footprint.

Bricks made with recycled PET plastic could replace the current ABS plastic, which is criticized for not being environmentally friendly to produce. For now they exist only in the form of prototypes, a copy of which is exhibited at the Joseph gallery. What is certain is that if in ten years the Legos maybe have less oil, their fans will still have as many ideas.

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