Responses by Camille Walala, artist
Background: I was invited by LEGO to create an interactive installation to help launch its new range, LEGO DOTS, which celebrates creativity through color and pattern. The result was House of DOTS, a free public installation at Coal Drops Yard, Kings Cross, London. It was a fantastical house comprising five residential rooms spread over eight shipping containers, in which everything has been customized in a mash-up of the new product and my distinctive style.
Reasoning: Central to my installation was the shared values between LEGO and my work—creativity, self-expression and accessibility, expressed through vibrant colors and bold geometric patterns. I wanted to bring this to life, and make it feel as tangible and magical. Working with LEGO was such a major opportunity; we really wanted to push ourselves—it was our most interactive installation to date!
Challenges: The timelines were very tight—just under four months in total from the initial conversation to launch. We began speaking with the LEGO Group in October, but the actual design of House of DOTS took just over three weeks. There were architects, engineers, multiple designers, LEGO fans and a LEGO master builder involved. Julia Jomaa, the Walala studio creative producer, was essential to keeping everything on track. Every step had to be mapped out in an exacting schedule, and we had to be nimble to adjust as things changed.
Favorite details: How each room has its own distinctive identity, made with a unique palette and combination of patterns, but it all works together. There are so many colors to choose from in the LEGO range; this was a challenge because the DOTS palette uses largely strong colors. We chose around seven or eight in the end, creating a distinct color palette for each room. The kids’ room is all monochrome, quite Memphis inspired with pastel colors. The kitchen is more bold and primary. Only the lounge has almost all of the colors. There were over two million LEGO pieces used for the entire installation.
Visual influences: The Memphis movement has been a big inspiration to my work, and House of DOTS is no different. Another inspiration is the postmodern style, with its strong shapes and colorful façades. Other influences are the Bolivian architect Freddy Mamani and the Bauhaus property that Adolf Loos designed for Josephine Baker. As I developed the mood board with The LEGO Group, the art style progressed from something initially rooted in a Bauhaus look to something more vibrant—a “Memphis playhouse” of sorts.
Specific demands: Everything had to fit into the LEGO system scale, so we had to think in terms of how many tiles you’d need to make a particular pattern. For example, when making a piece of furniture, we had to plan how the dimensions worked with a set number of LEGO pieces. There was a lot of math involved! This might count as a challenge for the project, but it was a welcome one.