Interview: Fernanda Rimini

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I’m excited to bring you ArchBrick’s second interview with Fernanda Rimini. Better known has JETfri and @fgr62 on Flickr, Fernanda is primarily a microscale LEGO architecture builder.

Why do you enjoy building in LEGO microscale?

“I grew up with LEGO and, when I was little, LEGO was still mostly about building houses. I guess the child in me comes out in the choice of building mostly structures which are, essentially, big houses. And now, with smaller and smaller pieces available, I can actually build fairly big structures in microscale and I don’t need a lot of space.”

What are some of the favorite architecture creations that you’ve modeled?

“I’m still attached to my first microscale, a re-creation of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Building it made me realize the incredible potential of microscale, as well as the challenges of building in this scale. More recently I have built versions of a couple of structures from the place where I work, the Culham Science Centre. For one of them, the JET building, I have also made a full piece list and instructions on request from colleagues. And I was so happy when they built their own version. Our PR department also uses photos of these models in some of their web communications material to convey the message that the job we do at Culham, which is mostly nuclear research, has a component of fun, imagination, creativity. And, of course, I have built a microscale version of the yellow house I used to live in.”

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Describe the process of creating one of your latest buildings.

“One of my latest models is the microscale of Casa Milan, the headquarters of the AC Milan football club. It happens to be situated very close to where my parents live, in Milano, and I’ve been meaning to build it for a long time. The main difficulty is using the red/black/grey colors to reproduce the pattern on the actual building. I took few photos and I looked for more images on the internet. I started from the basic proportions, trying to get the slope of the roof right with respect to the rest of the building. It took a couple of attempts before I got what I wanted; not necessarily fully dimensionally in scale but pleasing to the eye, not too jarring. The real structure has some silhouettes of footballers “in action” on the roof, which I replaced with the LEGO micro trophies, from the collectible minifigures.

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Because time is always at a premium, even at weekends, I tend to build on fairly small projects, ideally models that can be finished in a weekend or more complex modular stuff made of small individual builds. And I need to leave enough time to take pictures and upload to Flickr and Instagram. Most of my models get destroyed after few days, as soon as I need the space and the bricks for the next project. The model of the JET building in Culham is the exception: it sits proudly on my desk, in my office.”

What do you find most challenging about building in microscale?

“Incorporating round details in buildings is difficult, sometimes impossible. The “macaroni” pieces are useful but often too bulky. And unfortunately a lot of contemporary architecture, at least the one I tend to like, mixes square and round components.”

Discuss how you started building LEGO creations (not limited to architecture).

“Like most people, I built LEGO when I was little. Then I grew up and I rediscovered the bricks with my own children. I think, like most AFOLs, I realized soon that I was more interested in building than they were but I kept up the pretense of playing LEGO for them for few years. Then I gave up pretending [and] moved most of the LEGO boxes to a space of my own but I left the Star Wars stuff with my son. Discovering that there was a whole creative community of AFOLs (Adult Fans of Lego) out there and that I could be in contact with some of these amazing builders was a big step and a major source of inspiration. And it’s so nice when I can meet in person with some of my contacts. Apart from LEGO architecture I enjoy doing vignettes with minifigures, especially if I can find ideas and inspiration for a series of vignettes on a theme. I’ve done series on Career Advice, on Great Scientific Theories, on Holiday, on Phrases, Saying and Quotations. And I try to put some humor in my vignettes, whether I’m successful or not that’s not up to me to say…”

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Discuss any other general hobbies and interesting information about yourself (e.g. job, upcoming projects).

“I’m Italian but I’ve lived in France, the USA and now the UK and, I have to confess, I’m a nuclear scientist. But I don’t make bombs or any other kind of weapons. I’m interested in photography and for a while I did carve out a second career in exhibiting my photographs. I like loud music, very loud. It helps me relax. Heavy metal music for me is the perfect soundtrack to an afternoon spent building with LEGO.”

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Be sure to check out all of Fernanda’s other creations on Flickr! Thanks again for the interview!

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