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10K CLUB INTERVIEW: Jaijai Lewis, The Creator of THE OFFICE

Let's meet Jaijai (Lego The Office) and his 10k project THE OFFICE. He is a huge fan and he’s been working on various ‘Lego The Office’ designs since 2014. Learn more about his journey and leave a comment to support his idea!

 

ABOUT YOURSELF

  1. Who are you?
    Jaijai Lewis
     
  2. Where are you from?
    New York City
     
  3. How old are you?
    40
     
  4. What do you study or do for a living?
    I’ve work in market research.
     
  5. What hobbies do you have?
    I love reading and drawing. I’ve been trying to teach myself how to play the guitar since the beginning of the pandemic. But to be honest, I am not that great at it, lol.
     
  6. Do you have a personal LEGO portfolio website that you can share with us?
    I go by @LegoTheOffice on all social media platforms!
     
  7. Have you created any LEGO MOCs (my own creations) that you’re particularly proud of? What is it, why are you proud of it and do you have a photo of it?
    I’ve been working on various ‘Lego The Office’ designs since 2014, with each one I’ve been trying to make improvements over the last. I’ve found new building styles and the introduction of new parts really allows different possibilities. I’m really proud of all the work I’ve put in with my designs over the years. I’ve incorporated so many ideas and jokes over the years.  
     
  8. How and when did your interest in LEGO come about?
    When I was a little boy my father worked for the Salvation Army and they gave me the Basic Building Set (1922-2 made in 1983) as a Christmas gift. There were about 60 parts in this little red plastic briefcase I would carry around everywhere because I loved it. My little sister and I would spend hours creating worlds. It was our favorite toy as a child.
     
  9. What is LEGO for you? What does it mean for you? How does it fit in your life? E.g. build, display, meetups, play games, or 'just' watch cartoons.
    I’ve often said LEGO is the perfect toy, I love how something as simple as interlocking blocks can be so creative and versatile. When my sisters all started having their own kids, I was happy to introduce them all to LEGO bricks. My entire family is a giant LEGO family. I feel it can really spark a person’s creativity and imagination. That is important. I also feel it is just relaxing to just “play”. I think that is why it is so popular with adults who grew up with LEGO.
     
  10. What is your favourite LEGO theme (current or past)? Why? And has any theme inspired your building style or preference in any particular way?
    To be honest, LEGO Ideas is my favorite theme. I do enjoy Star Wars and the Superhero themes, but I enjoy the creativity you see in LEGO Ideas from the community. I never imagined some of the sets that have been created through the LEGO Ideas theme. I adore that people can take something they love like their favorite show, or instrument, or painting and recreate it in LEGO form to show how much it means to them.  
     
  11. What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
    UCS Millennium Falcon (75192), it’s gorgeous and detailed. I really enjoy it when LEGO makes intricate models.
     
  12. What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
    For the last two 10k interviews I’ve done I’ve said the 2x2 plat turn-table. It’s been a long-time favorite of mine because I love parts that allow motion. Lately, however, I find I’ve been really enjoying trying to use the hinge pieces.
     
  13. Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
    Ellen Koojiman (Alatariel) really inspired my first ‘LEGO The Office’ set designs way back in early 2014. Her set showed me that it was possible to get your favorite shows, stories, and ideas made into LEGO sets. 

    JKBrickworks is just impressive, I am a fan of his models for a long time. Many of his designs involve motion, which I really enjoy seeing in fan designs.

    I really loved Sleepycow’s design for the LEGO Piano, it was gorgeous and shows that you can really make anything you love into a LEGO set. 

    Lego Truman’s Van Gogh: The Starry Night is beautiful. Van Gogh is my favorite artist and to see how art translated into LEGO was mind-blowing. I’m extremely excited about that set.
     
  14. Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
    I really don’t follow any sites, I do follow many on social media like The Brother’s Brick or the AFOLs of Facebook. I like seeing people’s fan designs or new building techniques.

     

ABOUT YOUR PROJECT

  1. Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
    I’ve been a fan of ‘The Office’ for several years. In 2014 I heard LEGO was releasing a set for ‘The Big Bang Theory’ and thought it was a great idea. I really hoped at that time they would make one for my favorite show, ‘The Office’. Sometime later I decided to try to make one myself.
     
  2. How long was the process of making the project did, and what did you have to research as well. What kind of prep, research, and design phases did you go through to produce your creation?
    I have watched ‘The Office’ a lot over the years, but once I started approaching it as a LEGO designer I had to watch with a different perspective. I spent a lot of time looking at the set and tiny details I wanted to re-create. I pulled blueprints of the set and got behind-the-scenes photos from crew members from the show that I referenced. But also it involved watching the show itself and figuring out what jokes from the show I wanted to reference in LEGO form. 

    After my second design was declined in 2019 LEGO Ideas platform prohibited any new designs based on The Office because there was a licensing conflict.  I still worked on refining my designs. One day I saw that LEGO Ideas lifted the restriction on ‘The Office’ and submitted my third design in the middle of the pandemic.
     
  3. What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
    I’m constantly refining the design, adding new features, and rescaling as needed. One of my biggest changes was rescaling my original design to include more of the characters in the set while still allowing the freedom of displaying the set however you like.

    But by far the receptionist desk is the part I spent the most time on. Pam and Erin’s desk is difficult because it is naturally curved with carved wood paneling. I’ve mocked up over 50 different versions over the years and the one I have in my latest design feels like it most resembles the desk from the show.

    Besides that, I have spent a lot of time redesigning how people can easily access Michael’s office and the Conference Room. I’ve always wanted sturdy, but easily detachable walls for both rooms so people can play in both locations. My latest designs make it very easy to access the inside of both rooms with the detachable walls because of my new designs for the flooring. I also included a new joke there because beneath the “carpet” you can see hints of the hardwood floor underneath.
     
  4. If you could talk to yourself before you started on this project, what would you tell him/her? What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
    Back in 2014, I had no concept of photography, much less taking photos of LEGO. My first photos were of poor quality but over time (and with better lighting) they have really improved. I would tell myself to invest in good lights and a good camera because it really helps.
     
  5. How long did it take to complete the model? Did you finish it fairly quickly, or did it take a long time? And how did the build time compare to the time you spent promoting your Product Idea to reach 10,000 supporters?
    If I look at it overall, I’ve been working on this for nearly 7 years. This particular model, I’ve been working on since my second design was declined in 2019. It took about a year of tweaking and redesigning before I resubmitted it. And even when I hit 10,000 votes, I continued adding new features to improve the model.
     
  6. How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
    I think this time it took 2 months and I was really surprised by that. Because of the pandemic, I’ve been swamped at work and I barely promoted it. The fans really came out to promote and vote for my latest designs, which really meant a lot to me.
     
  7. Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
    The set itself without any minifigures is 1903 pieces! 
     
  8. What is your favourite building technique or part/section that you’ve incorporated into your Product Idea?
    I really like the new detachable walls for Michael’s Office and the Conference Room. Michael’s desk is completely redesigned and the most accurate version of the show, which I really had fun figuring out.
     
  9. If you built your model digitally, what software did you use to build and render your model?
    I use Studio 2.0.  I highly recommend it!
     
  10. If you used custom stickers or prints for your design, how did you create them or where did you get them?
    I created the stickers for everything, which took a long time to research and create digitally. Pam’s painting, the monitors, the bulletin boards, the paintings in Michael’s office, motivational posters, everything.  

     

ABOUT LEGO IDEAS

  1. Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
    Use a good camera and invest in good lighting. LEGO Ideas makes the recommendation to take good photos and I can confirm it really impacts how people vote.
     
  2. What (if any) methods did you use to advertise and attract support to your Product Idea?
    I really didn’t do anything. The Office community, fan sites, social media platforms really came together to get the design to 10k votes very quickly. Big thanks to “The Office Daily” on Facebook and @DundermifflinPaperCo on Instagram, they are both the largest pages for the Office and are among my biggest supporters.
     
  3. What is your favourite LEGO Ideas Product Idea (besides your own of course)? Are there any Product Ideas you think have been overlooked?
    I really like the Doctor Who Tardis set. The Voltron set is also wonderful too. I admit I am one of those people that hope LEGO makes a “Legend of Zelda” series. That is my favorite video game from childhood and have my fingers crossed since we got Super Mario sets.
     
  4. What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
    I love the fact that Ideas that you may never think would be a LEGO set have a chance because of LEGO Ideas. Like Voltron?  Or Van Gogh? I never expected either of those sets and am amazed by the community’s creativity.

    My best piece of advice is to always try to refine your designs. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again if you know of a flaw in your design you should try to fix it rather than assume LEGO will fix it for you. I’ve seen so many designers think like that and I think part of the fun/challenge is resolving those issues yourself.
     
  5. Do you have plans to submit any other Product Ideas in the future? If yes, can you give us a hint of what that might be?
    Yes, I do have an idea for a different set. I’ve actually been working on it on and off for the last year and hope to submit it by the end of this year. Shhh, no spoilers though, sorry!
  • 10k club
  • 10k club interview
  • 10k
  • product idea
  • office
  • dunder mifflin
  • nbc
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45 comments