We're back with the final 10K Club Interview of this week. Meet Giovanni Mirulla and his U LIOTRU - ELEPHANT FOUNTAIN - CATANIA project. Reaching 10K votes in just 6 days, this looks set to be a favourite! Let us know how much you love it in the comments!
- Who are you?
- Where are you from?
You wouldn't think so, but from the same place as "Liotru," from Catania in Sicily.
- How old are you?
I am 24 years old!
- What do you study or do for a living?
I study Computer Engineering and work in the same field as a Software Engineer. I am also a robotics tutor in elementary, middle and high schools and accompany kids to the First LEGO League competition.
- What hobbies do you have?
Definitely technology, which was passed on from the age of two by my grandfather, so everything related to computer science, electronics and consequently robotics - I even had the chance to win some world championships... ah yes, I forgot! Also the LEGO hobby of course!
- Do you have a personal LEGO portfolio website that you can share with us?
Yes of course! Through my socials, you can follow the adventures of the kids participating in the First LEGO League and every now and then I post some prototypes made with LEGO bricks, made by me or them. You can also find a street prototype that saves a lot of electricity.
- 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 am just now entering the MOC world, but I am proud to share with you my first humanoid robot. It's not much, it's not a splendour, but it's one of the first projects that introduced me to the world of robotics. In those years a song was popular that I think we all danced to, and this humanoid made entirely of LEGO pieces from the NXT set danced to it too! Do you recognize it?
- How and when did your interest in LEGO products come about?
LEGO bricks came into my life as a child, I think a little like everyone else. My grandfather after lunch, when I stayed at his house, would get a trunk full of bricks that had belonged to my mom and uncle before, and I would play for hours and hours, learning and growing up as I used them for prototyping some ideas.
- What is the LEGO hobby to you? What does it mean to you? How does it fit in your life? E.g. build, display, meetups, play the games or 'just' watch the cartoons.
For me, LEGO building is not only a hobby but also a teaching method. Having the opportunity to teach technology in schools, I can easily make complex concepts intuitive with some models also made on the spot. Finally, the First LEGO League has been a part of my life for several years, as a referee, judge and finally also as a coach.
- What is your favourite official LEGO set ever? Why?
Of course, after the Mindstorm sets there are also the series dedicated to Super Mario and the LEGO City series.
- What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
I think to this question we all answer tiles, they give that sense of finish, especially when imitating real existing objects. In general, all modified pieces, because they open the door to new ways of building.
ABOUT YOUR PROJECT
- Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
Unique design: The lava stone elephant and the Egyptian obelisk above it make the Elephant Fountain a unique work of art that makes it perfect for various urban settings, such as parks, plazas, and pedestrian areas. It can enrich our city creations. The history and legend behind this little elephant with such a distinctive name, "U Liotru." The cultures that have passed through Sicily have intermingled, an example of unity, and left their mark: Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, etc.
The dwarf elephant is also a symbol of endangered species, and respect for them is essential to ensure a sustainable future for our planet. In addition to being a good luck symbol because of its upturned trunk, from the dwarf elephant also originates the myth of the Cyclops. Catania, besides being my hometown, is also the fifth most visited city in Europe and the first in Italy.
- How long was the process of making the project, 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?
The process took a couple of days. A model born by chance that I was slowly improving in the off hours between study and work. I used internet photos, 360-degree photos, satellite photos and personal photos to capture the smallest details
- What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
Recreating the staircase with its particular shape was not easily reproduced with existing bricks - especially the search for the colours of the lava stone of the elephant and the granite of the Egyptian obelisk so as to make the fountain as similar as possible to the original.
- 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?
I don't remember exactly how long it took because when you're having fun, time goes by without realising it. To show this creation to my friends, I had merely done a story on Instagram, to date about 1000 followers, so 1/10th of the goal, and word of mouth started from there. In a short time, it spread locally, nationally and internationally. Unexpected! Everyone has been talking about it!
- How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
I was amazed and I am still amazed now! The project was appreciated on a large scale and all over the world. It reached 10,000 supporters in just 6 days!
- Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
About 730 pieces. The essentials to make the set available to more people. The idea is that this set can be an educational tool to teach children and adults the importance of historical and cultural heritage while promoting awareness of architectural beauty.
- What is your favourite building technique or part/section that you’ve incorporated into your Product Idea?
I love to put easter eggs just about everywhere, I have included one here as well, but I won't tell you which one. I hope you can find out for yourselves.
- If you built your model digitally, what software did you use to build and render your model?
I think it is understood that the computer and I live in symbiosis, so yes, I created the model digitally. I think it is one of the best inventions, you can give free rein to your imagination even if you have few resources and then maybe use bricks that are not among the sets you purchased.
ABOUT LEGO IDEAS
- Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
Originality, thinking outside the box always! Researching themes that are educational, fun and can be enjoyed by everyone, young and old alike.
- What (if any) methods did you use to advertise and attract support to your Product Idea?
Personally just the social, the rest came by itself.
- What is your favourite LEGO Ideas Product Idea (besides your own of course)? Are there any Product Ideas you think have been overlooked?
I like Van Gogh's Starry Night because it is very accurate and The Office because I love the series, but also because it contains several easter eggs.
- What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
Seeing so much creativity concentrated in one platform. I don't have a lot of advice being new here but I think those few have been captured in this period. I am glad that thanks to Liotru many more creators have been given more space on the platform giving birth to so many beautiful new projects!
- Do you have plans to submit any other Product Ideas in the future? If yes, can you give us a hint what that might be?
At the moment I don't.
- 10k club
- 10k club interview
- product idea
- u liotru
- elephant fountain
- giovanni mirulla