Matthew Ashton is best known as one of the two regular judges on the television show LEGO MASTERS, but he also has an important behind-the-scenes role at the LEGO Group. He is the Vice President of Design, overseeing the entire product portfolio. With two decades of experience working for the company, he has plenty of stories about what goes in the Billund design offices.
In a feature for the Metro, Matthew writes about holding this dream job, and recalls his earliest days working for the LEGO Group. “They were looking for someone to work on a range of toys for girls back then, and thought my background in fashion and passion for toys was just what they needed.”
Today, he is supported by colleagues who manage the day to day aspects of design. “I work across the whole portfolio of toys, meeting with the design manager of each product line to check things are going according to plan and offering advice and guidance on how to refine their designs to ensure LEGO produces the best possible toys.”
He recalls one of the strangest product pitches he was involved in, which was thankfully a graveyard smash. “One stand-out moment was when I was working on a product line called LEGO Monster Fighters and we were having a bit of trouble selling the idea to management (they were afraid that it might be too scary for the audience we were targeting).
“In order to show the ‘fun’ side, I did the whole presentation dressed as a vampire, popping out of a coffin and even performing the Thriller dance routine alongside the design team to finish. Needless to say, our slick dance moves won management over and we went on to launch an awesome product line that our fans loved.”
In the feature, Matthew also reveals that not everyone realises how intricately designed the products are. “Once when I told someone I was a designer at LEGO, they responded, ‘Hasn’t somebody already designed that?’ I think she presumed the 300+ products we launch every year were just a combination of bricks put into a box, but I can confirm it’s a bit more complicated than that.”
One of the things that all design employees must be good at is remaining tight lipped, with fans well aware of how many big franchises the LEGO Group team up with. “We work 12 to 18 months in advance on all of our product launches so I already know all the LEGO toys that kids will have under their Christmas trees in 2019. We also get to read a lot of scripts from movies that are in development while we are designing franchise toys, and of course we are sworn to secrecy.”
To hear more from Matthew Ashton, check back tomorrow for an exclusive Brick Fanatics interview.