We spoke to the Glasgow graduate working as a designer at LEGO
Chiara Biscontin studied Product Design Engineering at Glasgow Uni
We speak to Chiara Biscontin (Class of 2016) about her experience working at LEGO, how her Glasgow degree prepared her for the role and the advice she gives to recent graduates.
Tell us about your time at LEGO – how long did you work there and what did you do?
I worked at LEGO for almost five years (started December 1st 2016 and just changed paths in September 2021). I started as a junior designer within the LEGO Friends team. There I designed play sets for the main line and also for publishing and the extended lines. I then became a designer and worked on innovation and creating a new product line LEGO DOTS, which launched in January 2020. Within this new project I took on many roles and responsibilities within the team, always in a collaborative way. Working on the new elements, on creating the sets, improving and perfecting the user experience. We do a lot of kids testing and I had the chance to lead the kids test for DOTS and make sure the insights were implemented. I also had a role within trends research to have products always up to date. My role also took life in creating SoMe content, attending conferences and working on events. For example I collaborated with Camille Walala to bring the House of DOTS to life when we launched in London in 2020.
How did you end up at LEGO?
I had always wanted to have an impact on the education of children and saw play as an amazing way of doing just that. Lego naturally came to mind. I applied and after a six month selection process I started this new exciting journey, designing toys for kids and having an impact on shaping the way they interact and develop.
What is your favourite LEGO model?
This is a tough question, there are so many amazing models and it really depends what franchise you are looking at. I absolutely love the new typewriter model, which I find to be a fascinating build. I naturally have a soft spot for all the DOTS models, my latest favourites are the animal cubes which you can bring with you and give many expressions to.
Any quirks about working at LEGO?
LEGO has many quirks. I think the fact it has kept its HQ in Billund has kept a very strong Danish DNA and, with all the international designers, has now also a more international outlook which creates fun blends and points of view. We have people with a lot of different interests and space for every passion to be developed and explored. The interesting side of LEGO is that there are both designers by trade but also people from many other backgrounds who come to LEGO thanks to their passion for it. We have a yearly Halloween party which is taken VERY seriously and where all creatives unleash their creativity and create really cool outfits.
What did you study at Glasgow University?
I studied Product Design Engineering at UofG and GSA (it was a joint degree).
How did your time at Glasgow University prepare you for the role?
Being at UofG & GSA prepared in many different ways. On the academic side I got to explore the development of a product in many different sectors and understand what was and what wasn’t for me. I got the tools which I could then apply in a professional context and having both the engineering and the design sides gave me a more holistic approach. UofG allowed me to meet so many people from all backgrounds and, although already an international student myself, it was so wonderful and a great way to learn how to interact with different people of the world, a bit like in an international company such as LEGO. UofG also had amazing extra curricular activities and being an active member of GUSA and the volleyball team allowed me to participate in big events, help organise and also put myself out there and keep improving my presentation skills which have been key within the job.
What is your dream job?
I am not sure if I have one dream job. I think what was always important to me was to have a mix of creativity and structure which has shown itself through my interest and what I’ve studied and then in my work. I have also always wanted for my job to have a meaning to me and to somehow have an impact with the work I do. I will now explore the world of digital design and hopefully do some volunteering too, to fulfill both sides.
What’s your best advice for graduates looking for a job now?
It is a very tough question to answer as it will really depend on what one is motivated by. I guess that’s exactly my advice in a way. Find what it is that motivates and seek a way of fulfilling that. Whether that is making a difference, to keep learning, to make new discoveries or simply to make money, what’s important is to stay true to oneself as, at the end of the day, working will take most of your waking hours and it’s a shame to do something which you feel isn’t fulfilling you.