LEGO’s creator, Jens Nygaard Knudsen, has passed away aged 78, The Local Denmark reported. The first-ever LEGO minifigure designed in 1978 became now emblematic of the toy brand.
Jens Nygaard Knudsen was a man of ideas, said his widow Marianne Nygaard Knudsen. Jens has died while in hospice care from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), his former colleague confirmed Saturday.
In 1978, the Danish creator designed the iconic Lego minifigure with interchangeable legs and torsos, Denmark’s broadcaster TV2 reported. The figure was created so that there would be life in the houses. Kids across the world adore Nygaard Knudsen’s minifigures and the approach to create their own houses with funny plastic figures.
The 78-year old former designer passed away on Wednesday at a hospice centre where he had stayed for a week, according to Lego designer Niels Milan Pedersen, a former colleague for Nygaard Knudsen.
“His imagination was so fantastic. If we had a brainstorm it was more like a brain hurricane, because he had so many ideas,” Milan Pedersen told AFP.
Nygaard Knudsen has dedicated his entire life to LEGO’s development. He was a designer at the Danish toy brick maker from 1968 to 2000. He worked with developing the now legendary minifigure with movable arms and legs in the 1970s, before it was first released in 1978. And that became a scoop in the world of toys!
As LEGO said, it was decided when the figure was created that it would have no sex or race as these would be “determined by the child’s imagination and play.”
“At the time Lego’s houses were empty, but then he drew this man,” she added, paying tribute to Jens Nyggard Knudsen’s creativity and versatility.
In addition to the Lego figure, Nygaard Knudsen was also responsible for developing some of Lego’s classic themes, such as Space and Pirates.
The Danish firm Lego was founded in 1932 by Ole Kirk Christiansen, the giant employed over 17,000 people at the end of 2018. The first its minifigure was launched in 1958 but it became the world-famous thanks to the design of late Nygaard Knudsen.