Been building since the age of 4 and the passion never really stopped...Jan R, an architect born to design.
Jan's designs are focused around uncompromising accuracy, leading to secondary and even tertiary iterations to achieve true scale perfection.
At The Block Zone we have been working with Jan's designs long before he even knew about us. We've had hundreds of requests from customers as far back as 2021 to release a part pack for Jan's iconic Pike's Peak Hillclimb Racer. We obliged and, once he noticed the surge of interest from our customers, Jan reached out for a closer partnership.
AN INTERVIEW WITH JAN
To our fans & followers Jan is best known for his iconic 1:16 scale car designs and we know you'd love to meet the legend behind the MOCs! Here's what he's shared with us in an interview about his background, models, passions and his unique design process.
At the age of just 4 years old I started with my first models, something in the small Technic or Creator lineup which sparked the joy of both assembling models by instructions and seeing fascinating mechanisms come together, as well as creating your own models loosely recognisable as airplanes or cars.
This joy really took off at the age of 5 when we found an incredible Tow Truck model on clearance - a feat for the little boy I once was. 2 full days and nights spent assembling it, with all the perseverance and motivation one can imagine. Since I got that set it has been disassembled, rebuilt, modified, and made into completely different models hundreds of times over the years.
Back in 2018, after finding a friend who also enjoyed building with blocks in school, we were seeking out stores to get parts outside the official sources. We found one (which by now has unfortunately closed down) at which you can rummage through bins of parts and pay by weight, opening up completely new possibilities for creating your own models.
At the same time I started using "LDD" to try to replicate some of my dream cars, McLaren P1, Ford GT, Bugatti Chiron (picture of V1 included here). From there on it was just a question of time until my designs evolved into more accurate replicas of real cars, and slowly lead to where I am now.
I deeply enjoy both replicating all necessary details as well as abstracting certain features or whole buildings into the smallest identifiable version of itself - all depending on the requirements of each model. My personal focus on models is set on aesthetics, with stability and features being handled either during the design process, or often after certain visual decisions are made.
Being aware that my main customer base is adults and not kids, I consider my models to be rather display-worthy instead of playable with large compromises to their designs.
The first technic model I ever assembled was a 1700-piece truck, which took 2 full days to complete!
I would consider this to be the best overall creation in consideration of all its factors: stability, looks and features. It's a rock solid model when assembled correctly and features all the details, opening doors, front trunk, rear trunk, engine cover, glovebox as well as actual popup headlights operated by a lever in the passenger footwell, all while perfectly executing the lines and design features of the real things including the tail light bar and all air vents.
Bugatti Chiron - dream car - as it's basically impossible to capture the beauty of the real thing in brick form. It's been a WIP for 4 years now.
Just like most design work, my brick-built models have to start with an idea, a concept of what to build. While it’s not always the case, most projects aim to be replicas of real life objects, creatures, vehicles or architecture that either me or the client decides on.
Usually pictures, virtual or physical 3D-models or blueprints are either provided or researched to have a frame of reference. Also, at this first step, specific customer requests are discussed and noted.
While that question sounds silly at first, it’s really important to set yourself a few guidelines on how to design the thing you want to create - size, style and rigidity are all to be determined.
When requesting a monument replica at small scale for example, would you like it to be as exact to the real thing as possible, or do you prefer a block reinterpretation, featuring abstracted proportions and maybe even a Minifigure?
While every designer has their own process, here’s the order in which I usually tackle my projects:
- Start off with the most notable and complex sections, for example the front end of a car or a very speficic entrance to a building.
- Once that one section is complete and looking good it’s about creating the physical base that holds the model together - usually some sort of big base plate.
- Keep going along one edge of the build, focusing on the outside first. Especially on display models the looks are the most important thing!
- Finish construction with the interior and structural sections on the inside being optimised, so it all holds together.
This design process may take anywhere from 1 hour for very small builds to up to over 100 hours for the most complex of builds like my Zenvo TSR-S replica.
What happens once the digital design and physical prototype have a reached a stage that may be considered final?
Now it’s time to have a final check in with the customer to show off the work in the form of digital renderings, awaiting approval or requests for change. So far all my clients have been really happy with the work and only very minor adjustments had to be made.
Also, parts availability and final parts cost is being discussed and the parts are getting purchased.
Vlad T, Designer Program Manager.
Jan, our fans are always blown away by the attention to detail and innovative building techniques your models offer. I speak for the whole team here when I say that we strongly admire your continuous search for perfection, carefully restructuring and releasing new iterations of your already flawless designs. We're extremely excited to see what you come up with next and can't wait to share more of your designs with our customers!