10K Club Interview: Meet Felix Stiessen and Gabriele Zannotti of the Fiat 500 F
For today's 10K Club, let's hear from Felix Stiessen (aka saabfan) and Gabriele Zannotti (aka gabriele.zannotti) of the Fiat 500 F. You probably remember Felix as the co-fan designer of the already iconic NASA Apollo Saturn V, and Gabriele's stunning designs and renderings are hard to miss as he's collaborated with numerous LEGO Ideas members through the years. Felix and Gabriele teamed up to bring us the Fiat 500 F, continuing their ongoing love of capturing iconic vehicles in LEGO bricks.
Please help us congratulate Felix and Gabriele for their big achievement, in the comments below.
As something new we're also testing out a new Creator Commentary video format where you can learn even more about the product idea directly from the LEGO Ideas members! Check it out:
- Where are you from?
Felix: I’m from Austria.
Gabriele: I’m from Jesi, a little town in the center of Italy, halfway between the sea and mountains.
- How old are you?
Felix: I’m 18 years old.
Gabriele: I’m 25 years old.
- What do you study or do for a living?
Felix: I finished school last summer and I’m planning on going to university soon.
Gabriele: I’m a freelance graphic designer.
- What hobbies do you have?
Felix: As well as building LEGO sets and designing my own MOCs I like playing the trumpet, reading and playing video games.
Gabriele: I love analog photography, I built a small darkroom at home so I can develop and print my black and white pictures, join FIAT 500 meetings and rendering LEGO bricks.
- Do you have a personal portfolio website that you can share with us?
Felix: I don’t have a personal website but you’re welcome to check out my flickr page to view some of my other LEGO creations.
Gabriele: Unfortunately my website is not yet ready. Meanwhile you can have a look to my Flickr gallery dedicated to 3D LEGO renderings.
- How and when did your interest for LEGO come about?
Felix: I’ve been a fan of LEGO bricks for as long as I can remember. There’s just something about the system and coming up with new builds out of a limited amount of different parts that fascinates me.
Gabriele: When I was very little I had some simple “no-brand bricks”, then I discovered LEGO. I don’t know how many adventures I created with my minifigures! I discovered LEGO bricks again when I had the possibility to build virtually and render 3D models.
- What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
Felix: Apart from the LEGO Ideas NASA Saturn V, which I have a special connection to, it’s hard to narrow down the vast selection of awesome sets to a single one so rather than naming just one I’m going to say my favourite themes are LEGO Creator Expert and LEGO Technic.
Gabriele: 8230 Coastal Cop Buggy - my first LEGO set.
- What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
Felix: Similarly to the previous question I can’t narrow it down to a single brick. Hardly any LEGO element is confined to a single use and every brick can come in handy in multiple situations. That being said, I particularly like all the parts that can be used for SNOT-building.
Gabriele: My favorite part is the Headgear Helmet Castle with Dragon Crown with blue plumes, that was part of the armature of my… “alter (L)ego”, a strong warrior called Gabrieles Zinn.
- Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
Felix: I’ve been admiring JKBrickworks’ work for years as he manages to combine good looks and functionality in his models, both features I appreciate most about LEGO creations.
Gabriele: My Twitter and Flickr feed is full of talented fan designers, and I can’t really decide who is my favorite one. If I had to choose one I would say JK Brickworks, I’m always fascinated by his kinetic sculptures. Ah, and of course there is saabfan2013 ;-)
- Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
Felix: I really like checking New Elementary. They write fantastic reviews, feature great builds and they also do in-depth articles about new LEGO pieces. Another LEGO related website I really enjoy using is the online LEGO CAD-software Mecabricks which was also used to create our FIAT 500.
Gabriele: I usually look for new creations to render on Mecabricks, there is a great community of talented builders and renderers there.
About Your Project
- Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
Felix: I’ve been familiar with the Cinquecento and its Austrian twin the Steyr Puch 500 for a long time but only when I got to know Gabriele and his real car my interest for the 500 sparked. I thought it’d be a challenge to recreate it with LEGO bricks and so with the help of Gabriele’s knowledge and expertise on the car I started building the model.
Gabriele: Well, FIAT 500 is one of the symbols of Italy. That car allowed million of people to move during the economic boom after WWII. It’s part of our culture, that’s why some years ago my dad and me decided to restore a 1968 500 F, we took more than 3 years but we did an amazing job! It's more than a car for me. Cool fact: last year The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) acquired a 1968 FIAT 500 F, too :-)
- What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
Felix: The biggest challenge when building the model was definitely to recreate the iconic round shapes of the real car with LEGO bricks while also ensuring sufficient stability. Especially the front section with the headlights took quite a long time to design and we changed it several times over the course of our voting phase.
- How long did it take to complete the model? Did you finish it fairly quickly, or did it take a long time?
Felix: We started work on the model back in early 2016 and submitted it in August of the same year. However, since then we continued refining the design so it’s fair to say it took us a while to get it to the point where it is right now.
- How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
Felix: It was an amazing feeling and even more so considering each of these 10,000 votes is an individual person supporting your idea. At the same time I was certainly also relieved to finally reach 10k after gathering support for almost two years.
Gabriele: Obviously I was very happy, 3 months ago I was really afraid that it wouldn't reach the goal. Fortunately we had an extra-boost in the last weeks.
- Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
Felix: Together with various small gadgets the latest iteration of the model consists of 1235 parts.
About LEGO Ideas
- Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
Felix: For a project to be successful several things have to be right one of them being presentation so make sure to take good pictures of your model before uploading it.
Gabriele: I think that a successful project is a mix of a good idea and nice presentation. Find something people can fall in love and look for new ways to show it to that audience.
- What is your favourite LEGO Ideas project (besides your own of course)?
Felix: With so many great projects on the website it’s hard to pick a favourite but I really like tjspencer1’s E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial project.
Gabriele: I really love Stephanix’s Anatomini, he had a cool idea and he realized it very well.
- What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
Felix: What attracts me about LEGO Ideas is the possibility for ordinary fans to submit their ideas and have the chance to be involved in designing a real LEGO set which is undoubtedly a dream of many LEGO enthusiasts. To those thinking about uploading a project I suggest creating new and original creations so your idea stands out and is more easily noticed by others.
Gabriele: My favorite part of the platform is “Discover” section, it’s so interesting to see hundreds of cool projects there. If you want to capture the attention and be more visible than others you need to choose the perfect preview image!
- lego ideas
- 10k club interview
- felix stiessen
- gabriele zannotti
- fiat 500