I recently came across the work of David Hensel, a LEGO builder who specialises in everything LEGO, from spaceships and architecture to woodland and fantasy scenes. David’s latest creation, a 35mm film SLR styled on the Olympus OM-1 is a small departure but for those of you with long-ish memories, the perfect accompaniment to Ethan Brossard’s LEGO Nikon F3 featured first here on EMULSIVE Last December.

Visually, the camera is as close to a perfect rendition of the original Olympus OM-1 as LEGO’s system will allow and has been designed in two colours: black on black or black on silver. David has yet to confirm if he’ll be offering different “leatherette” options for it at this stage 😉

A master’s student from New Zealand, David is currently completing his thesis in architecture, which he directly credits to his childhood love of LEGO:

I dabble in model making using Lego bricks. I got hooked as a child and never grew out of it, and I do believe I have Lego to blame for me choosing architecture as a career.

The project, it seems, was the result of a confluence of circumstances, COVID-19 and an online LEGO contest. With New Zealand in lockdown since March 23rd, David was no longer able to continue working in a small architectural practice. So the online contest with its four week-long categories was a perfect opportunity to stave off boredom and get creative.

The first challenge was to build something out of just a single colour. I’ve had a bit of a background with building Lego, with some of my works being displayed in museums and more Lego conventions than I can remember. But I’d never thought of using only one colour to build before. An artistic challenge for sure.

David cites his inspiration following a visit to his brother’s bedroom and seeing — among other things — “a white on white Nike Jordon 1” and a black on black Olympus OM-1. Although the shoe didn’t last long as a creative muse, the OM-1 did.

David built the all black OM-1 in an afternoon and states it is “an almost perfect 1-to-1 replica, probably only 1-2mm off the actual camera’s dimensions”…”if you disregard the fact its made of ABS plastic instead of beautifully crafted metal and glass”, he goes on to add!

Unlike Ethan Brossard’s LEGO Nikon F3, David’s OM-1 wasn’t planned using software or built using a conveniently generated shopping list.

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I only ever work using physical bricks and stay away from digital for planning and such. Much like in my architecture work, I find there are opportunities in modelling by hand, connections, shapes etc, that you just won’t find in digital modelling.

David published the camera for the online contest and immediately went back to the model to see if it was possible to create an even closer likeness using a black/gray brick combination.

It was after this rebuild that David then decided to submit the model to LEGO Ideas, where the project currently stands at 840 supporters:

A few people had already reached out through my social media where I publish my builds online, asking to purchase the model, so I thought Ideas was perfect. Lego ideas is a platform that allows builders to submit projects, and if they achieve the support of 10,000 fans, Lego will consider taking the model and producing it as an official Lego set.

To avoid potential licencing issues, David published the camera simply as “film camera”. If the submission receives the required 10,000 votes, it will be considered for release as a retail product by LEGO but who knows if LEGO will proceed to make it an officially licenced product or continue with it as is. Before then, the project has to hit both a 1,000 supporter and 5,000 supporter milestone. I’d love to have one for myself one day, so here’s to hitting 10K!

David has a whole raft of creations on his Facebook, IG and Flickr pages, so please do check them out and give him a follow. Once you’re done, make sure you head on over to LEGO Ideas and give him your support!

Thanks for reading,

~ EM

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