Congratulations to Marcos, in our LEGO Ideas community known as Lepralego! His love for chocolate goes beyond just enjoying its taste. It served as an inspiration for his product idea and after thorough research of how cocoa beans can be turned into delicious chocolate bars, The House of Chocolate has been made.
- Who are you?
My name is Marcos Garavelli.
- Where are you from?
I’m from Argentina but I’ve been living in Spain for the last 20 years.
- How old are you?
I’m 44 years old.
- What do you study or do for a living?
I’m a photographer.
- What hobbies do you have?
(I think that LEGO is more than a hobby for me so that’s why I’m not including it in this list…!) I love cinema, music and I’m also a big football fan. I’m interested in gardening and cooking, but I’m just a beginner at both.
- Do you have a personal LEGO portfolio website that you can share with us?
I share my LEGO creations on both my Instagram account, on my Facebook page, and on my Flickr account.
- Have you created any LEGO MOCs (my own creations) that you’re particularly proud of? What is it, why are you proud it and do you have a photo of it?
Yes, I’ve been working for a couple of years (Yes, years!) on a Haussmann-style building. I have called it Boulevard des Lumières. It has been a major challenge for me because of its size and the number of pieces it has (18,500 parts…) and also because of my lack of knowledge in the field. I’ve learned a lot during the process: building techniques, Bricklink orders, parts, colours, proportions…
- How and when did your interest for LEGO products come about?
When I was a kid I used to love building new things with my LEGO bricks. I remember that I was always trying to build big cities in my room and most of the time I ran out of pieces. One day, as an adult with a stable job and living in another country, I went inside a toyshop by chance and when I saw the LEGO boxes on a shelf I felt again that old passion, so on impulse, I bought a LEGO set.
- What is LEGO for you? What does it mean for you? How does it fit in your life? E.g. build, display, meetups, play the games.. or 'just' watch the cartoons.
Well, since the day I mentioned in your last question (17 years ago…) the presence of LEGO in my everyday life has not stopped growing, and LEGO Ideas has been extremely important in this process. Nowadays I find myself constantly thinking of new ideas, imagining scenes, reliving memories. I even wake up at night to write down things I have dreamed of! I feel excited, energetic, optimistic, and want to build more and more. I’m deeply grateful to this platform for all that it has awakened in me and proud to be part of its community.
- What is your favourite LEGO theme (current or past)? Why? And has any theme inspired your building style or preference in any particular way?
I think that the 1980s train sets (also known as The Grey Era), especially the 12V system, marked the pinnacle of the train theme, with their lampposts and remote-controlled signal points, crossings, and decouplers… I dreamed of owning those sets practically all my childhood but I’ve was never able to do it. Perhaps that unfulfilled desire that accompanied me for so long is behind the love I feel today for LEGO! The modular buildings of the Creator Expert theme introduced in 2007 were also very important in my life.
- What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
My favorite has always been the Green Grocer (10185). It was the first modular that I fell in love with and for me, something special emanates from it. It was an important step forward since it was there that interior details began to be incorporated. Thanks to that set, the series was consolidated and the others arrived. For me, personally, it was the set that changed everything; it meant a change in my priorities and the conviction that I want to be close to LEGO in one way or another every day.
- What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
The part 4070, 1x1 angular brick (commonly known as ‘headlight’) is for me the best LEGO part ever. It has multiple options for bracket techniques and it is also a great part for offset techniques as it gives you the possibility of ‘breaking’ the 20 LDU width sequence of the regular bricks, reducing it to 16 LDU.
- Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
When I think about LEGO designers, Jamie Berard is always in the first place. His designs have influenced me and so many people so much and for so long that no amount of thanks are enough. Marcos Bessa has inspired me too. He has built many of the most incredible sets the LEGO Group has released to date: The Ewok Village, the Ghostbusters Headquarters and the last Diagon Alley are some of the standout examples. I also admire the work of Justin Ramsden: his Spring Lantern Festival raised the level of beauty of the whole line; the Milan Madge’s work in Pirates of Barracuda Bay was outstanding, and the last NASA Space Shuttle Discovery was great, too. Cesar Soares, who worked with treehouses before LEGO hired him, has done an incredible job adapting the Ideas Treehouse by Kevin Feeser.
In the fan designer field, I admire Jonas Kramm’s work and completely love the style of Andrew Tate (Snaillad). Luca Petraglia, Rocco Buttliere, Michael Haas, Jessica Farrell, Alice Finch, and Warren Elsmore blew my mind so many times with their builds. From the LEGO Ideas platform I would like to mention in particular Pablo Sánchez (Bricky_brick) – an awesome designer and even better person, always open to sharing his knowledge to help you. For me talent without humility and sensitivity is worthless. Pablo has everything needed to become an official LEGO designer. This platform won’t be the same without the talent of Ivan Guerrero (bulldoozer), Thomas Carlier (The Brick project), Lionel Martin (Castor-Troy), Vaggelis Ntezes (Delusion Brick), Rafa (Brick Dangerous), and Truman (Legotruman), to name just a few.
- Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
bricklink.com is always open on my desktop, for checks about existing parts, inventories of sets, and piece availability. I regularly visit newelementary.com for news related to new parts and colours. brickset.com is the reference guide for official LEGO sets. I also visit eurobricks.com quite often, as well as its forums.
ABOUT YOUR PROJECT
- Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
I’ve been a big chocolate fan since my childhood. A couple of years ago I visited Cadbury World in Birmingham, UK. I was very impressed by the industrial manufacturing process of chocolate.
- 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?
It was almost 3 months from the initial idea to the submission of the project to LEGO Ideas (16th November 2020). Last summer I started to research the artisan process and I discover a whole world of craft chocolate makers. I’ve learned all the steps from the cocoa beans to the final bar of chocolate, including how the machines involved in each part of the process work. With all this information in mind, I drew some sketches of a nice city house in which all these processes take place, and where you can taste and smell that wonderful flavour in a cozy room with bay windows. While designing the set, I remembered there was an old promotional Chocolate factory set from 1978 (set 1620). I thought that it could be a good idea to give a nod and pay tribute to that classic LEGO set, and so decided to include the ‘Chocomel’ chart.
- What special challenges or frustrations did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
The hinged back compromises the whole build. When you make a wall movable, you lose the chance to use it as a support for the next levels so you have to replace that support with columns or arch parts.
- 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?
Perhaps I could say: ‘Trust yourself. Someday you’ll reach the golden 10k supporters by being yourself and building the things you love’.
- 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?
After finishing the design, I spent more than a month reviewing the set from many different angles, adding extra details, and refining the presentation before submitting it. I think this part of the process was very important to showcase the project properly and to reach a wider audience for it. In this project, for the first time, I spent more time on the stage between the initial idea to the final submission, than from the submission to the 10k goal.
- How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
This is my first 10k project and it’s a very special feeling. The idea of being in contact in some way with the brand that I love all my life is pretty overwhelming!
- Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
The set has approx. 2700 pieces (all existing elements in the LEGO palette) and includes 7 minifigures.
- What is your favourite building technique or part/section that you’ve incorporated into your Product Idea?
The techniques used to build the machines and the hinged back of the building are perhaps some of the highlights of the build.
- If you built your model digitally, what software did you use to build and render your model?
I’ve built it using Stud.io from Bricklink and this time I’ve rendered it in Blender.
- If you used custom stickers or prints for your design, how did you create them or where did you get them?
I’ve included a few custom stickers that I designed with Photoshop and added before the render process.
ABOUT LEGO IDEAS
- Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
I think that you have to research and build those things that connect with you and your own experience. The deeper you go with that, the better you’ll feel about your result. You are the first ‘visitor’ to your work. I think that you’ll always go further trying to be honest with yourself than trying to please people at any cost.
- What (if any) methods did you use to advertise and attract support to your Product Idea?
I’m not an expert in this field, and I know I’ve made many mistakes in the past with the promotion of my projects. I think that my Instagram account and Facebook pages helped in the support of my Ideas in some way, but they weren’t essential to reaching the 10k support needed. I like to spend my time thinking and designing new sets rather than promoting them.
- What is your favourite LEGO Ideas Product Idea (besides your own of course)? Are there any Product Ideas you think have been overlooked?
My favourite is Pirates of Barracuda Bay.
- What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
The most attractive thing about the Ideas platform is its Community. When you submit a project it initiates a wonderful period of interaction and feedback with people with shared interests, passions, doubts, and concerns.
- 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?
I have a lot of ideas, but I feel uncomfortable anticipating things that may change during the design process.
- 10k club
- 10k club interview