Women Designers of LEGO

We’re loving the designer features in some of the newer LEGO set instruction booklets and always look forward to designer videos – but given who we are, of course we’ve been looking at who has been featured where, and when. The first designer feature we’ve been able to find came with the LEGO Ideas Research Institute set (designed by Ellen Kooijman and issued in 2014), but these features were sparse until 2018.

Beginning in 2018, LEGO Ideas sets began including features on the original fan designers as well as the LEGO designers who turned their designs into product. Designer features can also be found in the several of the Creator, Star Wars, Sculpture/Art sets and Technic sets produced from 2018 onward.

Here’s who’s been featured in LEGO instruction booklets so far:

Pie Chart - designer features in LEGO instruction booklets: Women, Mixed Gender Teams, Men and Teams of Men
Data as of July 2021

How to paint a different picture:

Frequently, only one or two members of a design team are featured in an instruction booklet or LEGO design video. One example we’ve looked at is the Harry Potter Diagon Alley video, which features creative lead Marcos Bessa. Here, however, are more members of the LEGO Harry Potter team:

Photo of LEGO Harry Potter team

See how the dynamic changes a bit when you can see everyone who’s worked on a product? Diversity matters!

Where are the women?

We know Mel Caddick has designed many sets, including many gifts with purchase, and Astrid Graabæk (now the creative lead for LEGO Minifigures) designed set 10224, LEGO Town Hall, in 2012. According to Bricklink data, since 2014 there have been approximately 5500 sets produced by LEGO. Of these, we have so far been able to identify around 350 that have been designed by women, many of which are LEGO Friends sets designed by Antica Bracanov.

Antica isn’t yet featured in any LEGO instruction booklets, though you will find her in a LEGO designer video. You may notice that unlike many of the other (male) designers with video features, there is less discussion around the designer(s) behind the Friends line and more discussion about the theme itself. In fact, LEGO Friends designers appear to be introduced by first name only, at least at the time of this writing.

Using Brickset, LEGO Designer videos, instruction booklet features, LinkedIn and Google, we’ve begun compiling a list of women LEGO creatives and designers and the products they’ve worked on. Some of these designers have created and maintained their own set lists at Brickset which is why their numbers are (currently) higher and more complete.

(This is why you’ll actually see a list of sets Taiwanese designer LiYu Yin designed. Despite being involved in the majority of Ninjago and Monkie Kid sets and featured in some press photos, she was initially unidentified while the three male designers were featured in videos and even had their own designer fact sheets.)

We need your help.

Below you’ll find a link to our current and growing list of women LEGO designers and the number of sets or products we’ve been able to identify, so far, that they’ve worked on. We’d love your help in identifying more. We know that Ellen Bowley, for example, has worked on many of the National Geographic-partnered Friends and City sets, but we haven’t been able to determine which ones. We also know that Tara Wike is a minifigures designer, but again, we’re unsure as to how long she’s been involved with designing the collectible minifigures series (the best, so far, that we’ve been able to determine is “probably since the beginning in 2010”, based on this 2018 interview with her on Newelementary.com). Unfortunately, we’re sure we’re missing many more.

We would love your assistance in making this list more comprehensive! You can view the growing list here, and if you’re aware of any women LEGO designers or sets that have been designed by women at LEGO that aren’t on this list, please let us know by filling out this form. Again, this includes any and all women members of a design team, including creative leads, UX designers, graphic designers, etc.

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