This year marks the 100th anniversary of Disney, and to celebrate, LEGO has created a new 4,837-piece LEGO | Disney Castle set, as well as four giant murals in London, Manchester, Paris and New York City.
The murals were created by artists Lakwena Maciver, Amy Jones and Kristin Texeira, and each one features some of Disney's most iconic and much-loved characters from the last century, including Mickey Mouse, Cinderella, Ariel, Woody and Buzz Lightyear. What makes these murals particularly special? Families can build them with LEGO bricks. The Manchester and Paris murals have already been made, with the final New York mural to be created 28-30 July at Pier 17, Seaport.
To find out more about the project and the new set (a contender for our best LEGO sets guide), we caught up with one of the mural artists, Lakwena Maciver, as well as Benedikte Stamp, creative design lead at LEGO.
How did you go about transforming the artists' ideas into the mural?
Benedikte Stamp: From the beginning we had the idea of creating a castle window and we wanted this to be on an epic scale. We provided the artists with the castle window frame and then asked them to bring to life the design in their own individual style with their favourite Disney characters in our unique LEGO brick style.
How did you work together on the project?
Lakwena Maciver: I designed two murals, which included my iconic, colourful style and incorporated the nine Disney characters (in each design). Once the drawings were complete, they were transformed into a LEGO mural by the LEGO model shop team.
How did you choose the characters for the mural?
LM: My mural features iconic Disney characters from the last 100 years. It was very exciting to work with Disney – a brand with such rich history – who hold a very prominent space in generations of children’s imaginations. Some of the characters held a significant place in my personal history, for instance, Winnie the Pooh, whose stories were inspired by the Ashdown Forest where my cousins grew up, and where we would go on walks when I visited. And now, with my young family, films like The Lion King and the character Simba, which is featured in my mural, offer a nice way for me to talk to my children about our ancestral homeland.
To decide which references to include, I worked with the teams at the LEGO Group and Disney. We wanted to show a range of the iconic characters from the last 100 years, but also include characters that I had a personal connection to. For example, Princess Tiana who was the first black princess is a very significant character to me so it was important that I included her in one of my murals.
What challenges did you come across when creating the mural?
LM: It was important to bear in mind the fact my artwork was going to be transformed into a 4.5m tall LEGO mural, so I had to make sure that the patterns were not too small, and I had to take into account the scale of the bricks.
What was your favourite part of the project?
LM: I think my favourite thing about the whole project is that it’s the first time my artwork has been built out of LEGO bricks – in fact, each of my designs is made of 220,000 LEGO bricks, which is really exciting. Seeing the transformation of my design into the final giant mural is very special.
What was your process when making the LEGO Disney Castle set?
BS: The designers spent a lot of time deciding which movies to link to, in the interior of the castle. But we also listened to our fans and what they were asking for in new LEGO Disney sets. We ended up selecting four strong princesses that the castle is designed around. On top of that we ended up building in a secret treasure, that you will only discover when you build the castle.
How do you hope people will interact with this project?
LM: I love doing creative things with my hands, and I meet lots of people, not necessarily artists, who feel the same way, so I hope that building this LEGO mural is a cathartic and enjoyable experience for people that brings them together.
BS: I’m hoping that both the castle set as well as the mural will inspire lots of families to get together, watch the Disney movies and get creative.
We have also created an online version, where you can create your own castle window in LEGO bricks – inspired by the artists and Disney over the last 100 years.
What else are you doing to celebrate Disney100?
BS: To celebrate Disney100 we have revealed a range of products this year including new The Little Mermaid sets, a collectible LEGO Brickheadz Disney 100th Celebration set, a 3 in 1 magical castle LEGO Duplo set, a Disney Celebration Train, we have recreated the Disney ‘Up’ House in brick form and we have also launched a LEGO Minifigure Disney 100 collection.
We have celebrated the wonder of storytelling with our Share the Wonder Video Series that recreates beloved Disney movie moments in LEGO brick form.
What's your favourite LEGO Disney product so far?
BS: The very first movie I watched at the cinema was The Little Mermaid. I watched it repeatedly and knew all the songs, so growing up I was a big fan of Ariel. Therefore, it was quite special to me, that I got to design the first two products for LEGO Disney based on Ariel, back when I was a product designer myself.
And of course, the new LEGO Disney Castle has a very special place in my heart. Getting to work with my amazing design team and seeing how much fun they had creating it and incorporating all the references to 14 of Disney’s classic movies from across 100 years of Disney was very special.
What’s special about the partnership between the LEGO Group and Disney?
BS: Both companies are great at bringing together the whole family and creating special heart-warming moments. The partnership has been going for 24 years now, which is no surprise to me given the amount of amazing Disney stories that we can recreate with LEGO® storytelling. The first product we launched with Disney was a LEGO DUPLO Winnie the Pooh set in 1999.
You can find out more about the new LEGO | Disney Castle set and the family building events at www.lego.com/castle.