As the LEGO brick celebrates 60 years, we take a look at the evolution of the brand's stores over the years.
Sixty years ago, the simple idea of adding tubes inside a plastic brick turned into one of the most exciting and influential toys in the world – the LEGO brick. Since then, LEGO play has been about the joy of building and giving every child the chance to shape their own world through inventive play, and this is reflected in the brand's physical stores. While the LEGO Group has constantly created new ways to play, its original mission has never changed: to build children’s future through play and imagination.
Leicester Square store
'LEGO play is powered by imagination and curiosity, and the LEGO brick is at the very heart of it – putting the bricks together and taking them apart over and over, with imagination as your only limit. This helps young minds to stay open, keep exploring and develop skills essential for the 21st century, such as creativity, collaboration and problem solving,' says Julia Goldin, chief marketing officer at the LEGO Group.
Bullring Birmingham store, courtesy of FITCH
LEGO store experience
'Ever since we opened our first retail store, our vision has been to build an environment that encourages and inspires fun and creativity for our guests of all ages who enter, whilst encapsulating our brand personality and namesake Leg Godt - which translates to "Play well" in English. It is our firm belief that shopping for LEGO should be as fun as playing with it,' says Martin Urrutia Islas, LEGO’s retail innovation director.
Retail design agency, FITCH played a major role in the transformation of LEGO's physical spaces. 'LEGO wanted to make their retail experience more engaging in order to drive store performance. Key to the future success was landing on a strong brand idea that could be translated into a powerful consumer experience. The name LEGO is derived from the phrase “Leg Godt”, which means “Play Well” and this was the basis of the creative brief for the new brand stores; a place where children and adults could play well. The entire design scheme was built around ensuring this goal was fulfilled,' says Tim Greenhalgh, chairman and chief creative officer of FITCH, remembering the original design brief.
Bullring Birmingham store, courtesy of FITCH
Central to the design is the 'Lounge', a fun space in the middle of the store topped by a LEGO brick central light feature where customers can play with the product together and be immersed in the LEGO experience. 'Some of the creations were then displayed in the store window – this is fundamental to the Play Well concept and key to ensuring all customers have an engaging experience,' says Greenhalgh.
A consistent series of child height dioramas line the perimeter of the store that brought to life key products. The 'Pick a Brick' wall was located at the back of the store. Inspired by classic ‘pick and mix’ sweet stores, LEGO pieces can be bought by the scoopful. 'This was so popular that it has now been extended into body parts for the mini figure series,' says Greenhalgh.
AR screens dotted around the store allow shoppers to bring models to life on screen just by holding up a boxed LEGO product.
Future LEGO stores
Islas says the LEGO Group is continuously evolving and innovating the LEGO retail experience, whilst constantly listening to the feedback and ideas that it receives from guests as their experience is what matters most to the brand. 'We are always keeping our fingers on the pulse of the latest trends and insights, and looking at how these can be brought into the store environment to further enhance our guest's experience. For example we introduced the Mosaic Maker in 2016, tapping into the ever increasing personalisation that shoppers are looking for.'
Mosaic Maker at Leicester Square
The Mosaic Maker platform has complex special technical requirements, and as such LEGO is currently looking at how it can make it available in more locations for fans. LEGO recently opened the fifth Mosaic Maker in its Berlin store, and has plans to reveal more surprises to fans in the next few months.
'Consumer behaviours are constantly evolving, and we need to ensure we're on the same evolutionary journey with them,' says Islas.
Whatever the future is for LEGO stores, they are sure to include plenty of play moments for both children and adults alike. We look forward to seeing what surprises the brand has up its sleeves later in the year.
The perfect selfie opportunity at the Leicester Square store