We're continuing our 10K Club member intervews in the run up to the next review results in the early fall and this week we have the pleasure to introduce you to Koen Zwanenburg, better known as Swan Dutchman on LEGO Ideas, the fan designer behind the delightfully colourful and detailed Gingerbread House. Koen shares plenty of insights about his project, his motivation for creating it and tells much more about his passion for LEGO. When building MOCs, Koen also thinks critically about a number of factors before submitting them to LEGO Ideas. Read on to get to know more about this talented LEGO designer!
Help us congratulate Koen on becoming a part of the LEGO Ideas 10K Club!
- Where are you from?
I live in the Netherlands.
- How old are you?
I am 28 years old.
- What do you study or do for a living?
I am a food technologist.
- What hobbies do you have?
I enjoy cooking, making music and building with LEGO.
- How and when did your interest for LEGO come about?
I used to play with LEGO as a kid, especially the castle and pirate themes. At the age of 12, I lost interest until a couple of years ago. A few years ago, I had the idea of placing a big ship on top of my bookcase for display. That is when I purchased the Queen Anne’s Revenge set. I was very impressed with the quality and detail. It did not take long to discover that the diversity of LEGO parts has grown a lot since I was a boy. This got me back into building.
- What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
A set from my childhood: 6086 Black Knight’s Castle. It is such a cool looking castle.
- What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
There are many elements I favour, but the element I use in any MOC must be the plate. The plate is very versatile: it can be small and big, you can use it like ‘glue’ to put everything together and it can be used as a decorative part.
- Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
I really enjoy the builds made by ‘Kosbrick’. His MOCs are original, colorful and fun and the photographs themselves are awesome as well.
- Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
Yes, I visit the blogs “BrickNerd” and “The Brothers Brick” daily to read and view about MOCs by other builders, and of course I am active on Eurobricks and the Dutch LEGO user group ‘Lowlug’.
About Your Project
- Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
I really enjoy the Christmas season and thus weeks before ideas popped up to make something Christmassy out of LEGO elements. Where I live, gingerbread houses are not very common at all. In fact, I have never seen a real one ever before! I actually got the idea from a comic Christmas special I read as a kid where Donald Duck surprised his nephews with a gingerbread house. This fascinated me so much that decades later I built my own version.
^ Go "backstage" with Koen, as he shows how this tasty Gingerbread House was built.
- What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
I wanted the LEGO gingerbread house to look like the real thing, meaning a lot of decorative candy and icing. That made the original design of the roof extremely complex. Later on, while the project was on LEGO Ideas, I decided to redesign the roof, which resulted in a much easier version that looked pretty much the same.
- How long did it take to complete the model?
I think it took me about a month to design, acquire all the parts I needed and to build it.
- How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes?
It took a little more than a year to reach the 10,000 votes. I felt really surprised and excited at the same time. I consider it a real honour that so many people like the house.
- Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
The gingerbread house with the new version of the roof contains about 1500 bricks.
^ Koen even went as far as installing lights in his Gingerbread House to really get into the Christmas mood.
About LEGO Ideas
- What is your favourite LEGO Ideas project (besides your own of course)?
It’s a difficult question to answer since there are so many good ideas. Three ideas I really like are ‘Pinocchio’ by vedosololego, ‘Willy Wonka’ by Brickproject_7540 and ‘Rolling BB-8’ by mjsmiley and artbot138.
- What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
What attracts me most about LEGO Ideas is that LEGO fans have the chance of turning MOCs into official LEGO sets everyone can enjoy.
When finishing a MOC I always think: hey, is this something that many other people would like to build as well? If yes, can the majority of the people build it? Some designs are pretty complex to build. And is it possible for LEGO to produce it as a set? Considering licenses, the scale of the build and the building techniques involved. If I think I can answer the questions with a ‘yes’ I place the model on LEGO Ideas.
- lego ideas
- 10k club
- koen zwanenburg
- swan dutchman
- gingerbread house