When it concerns all points Danish, modern-day furniture, beer and also breads stand apart, yet perhaps the nation’s most famous export are tiny toy blocks. In 2016 alone, over 75 billion of the vibrant plastic blocks were marketed, and also the 85-year-old firm behind them rules as one of the globe’s most famous plaything makers. But if it weren’t for a series of fires– and also an inventive woodworker– LEGOS might never have been built.
The LEGO story started in a Danish woodworking store in the days before electricity. At the time, Billund was an obscure village, and also Ole Kirk Christiansen was simply an easy woodworker with ambition. As a young man, Christiansen turned his love of paring as well as playing with wood into a service and, in 1916, he opened his very own shop.
In the beginning, Christiansen’s shop created furniture like ladders, stools and ironing boards. But in 1924, just as he was looking to increase his successful company, his boys mistakenly established a stack of wood contribute the shop on fire. The fires it generated destroyed the whole structure– as well as the household’s residence.
Others might have quit with a total loss, but Christiansen saw the fire as an excuse to just build a larger workshop. Misfortune remained to strike, however. In 1929, the American stock market collision plunged the globe into anxiety, and also Christiansen’s spouse passed away in 1932. Bowed by individual and monetary catastrophe, Christiansen laid off much of his personnel and also battled to make ends satisfy.
Little did he understand that those disasters would certainly lay the structure for one of business’s great comeback stories. Because times were so hard, Christiansen made the tough choice to utilize his wood to create cost-effective products that might really market. Amongst them were cheap playthings.
The choice really did not settle– in the beginning. Christiansen in fact slid into personal bankruptcy, but declined to quit making toys when his siblings attempted to make it a problem of a bailout lending. Yet his love of playthings pressed the business ahead, also when it limped. He even relabelled the business to show its new direction: leg godt, or “play well,” came to be LEGO.
Christiansen may have been an excellent ironing-board builder, yet it turned out he was a fantastic toymaker. He declined to cut edges for the playthings his firm created. Soon, his prototypes for innovative designs of cars and animals and his adorable pull playthings got a national fanbase. His bestseller, a wooden duck whose beak opens up and also closes when drawn, is now a coveted collectible.
In 1942, as Germany occupied Denmark, one more fire threatened Christiansen’s livelihood when his entire factory once more shed to the ground. Yet by then, he was established enough to not just recover, however to be forward looking. When World War II finished, lots of standard manufacturing items utilized to generate durable goods merely weren’t readily available. As a result, lots of producers wanted to advances in plastics to develop economical options.
Among them: plastic-injection molding, in which melted plastic is pushed into the cavity of a specific mold and mildew. Nevertheless, as a result of materials lacks the Danish federal government prohibited its business use until 1947. In spite of the ban, Christiansen acquired Denmark’s very first plastic-injection molding device in 1946 and also began to experiment with it for his toys. In 1947, he was ultimately permitted to use it for goods he can sell– and by 1949, the business was producing a plastic product called the Automatic Binding Block.
The plaything looks a great deal like a modern LEGO brick, and according to LEGO the reality that its name was English, not Danish, was a homage to the Allied forces that freed Denmark and put an end to The second world war. The plaything was motivated by a collection of self-locking blocks created by a British firm, Kiddicraft. (LEGO claims Kiddicraft informed the business it was fine to use the design, however in 1981 they formally bought the legal rights to Kiddicraft bricks from their creator’s descendants.).
Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, President of the Lego company in Denmark, describes the Lego structure playthings to kids, 1967. (Debt: PA Photos via Getty Images).
Godtfred Kirk Christiansen, President of the Lego firm in Denmark, explains the Lego structure toys to kids, 1967. (Credit Scores: Pictures via Getty Images).
Christensen and his child, Godtfred, made improvements on the British design and also started offering plastic blocks in 1949. Though they were not LEGO’s most prominent toys, they became increasingly more prominent as the years passed.
Ole Kirk passed away in 1958, equally as his child got on the verge of using the easy Automatic Binding Blocks as the basis of a full-on “System of Play.” Designed on the principle that all blocks need to interlace as well as be interrelated– and also boost both the creative potential of children and also sales– the system ended up being the structure of modern LEGO. That implies that any type of LEGO block generated because 1955 can interlace with any other.
Simply 5 years after introducing its System of Play, LEGO maintained a 3rd devastating fire. Like the first, this blaze secured the business’s destiny: Since the fire burned up every one of the business’s wooden plaything inventory, the business decided to ditch timber forever as well as continue with plastic.
Today, that decision implies big business. Billund, Ole Kirk’s unidentified town, is a visitor destination, as well as the LEGO Team has constructed itself into an industry titan. However it never would certainly have occurred without those straightforward blocks– or the fires that virtually damaged a household’s dream 3 times over.