My meeting with a chess set designer

Aug 6, 2008, 8:28 AM |

I recently had a meeting with an highly established chess set designer. His designs have been bought and sold by some of the worlds leading chess set companies, mentioning no names of course.

His family had been involved in chess piece production for decades so he had plenty of experience right from a young age. He had been responsible for a number of really lovely looking Staunton chess set designs and I was keen to find out more about how he designs new sets, especially when you consider the vast number of variations on the Staunton theme already out there.

When he decides to create a new set of luxury chess pieces he first needs inspiration and a theme for the set. By theme I don't mean anything like a typical 'themed chess set' the underlying style is still definitely Staunton.

What I found most interesting was his method for gaining inspiration. He travels the world with his camera taking photos of major cities. Inparticular things like ornate architecture, statues, busts and columns. He showed me his camera and photos of a stunning bronze horse statue. This he said would be used to model the head of the knight on his next chess set design.

He would walk around the cities until he had gained enough photographic material to form a full chess set. With ornate decorative crosses forming the tops of kings and the bases of stone columns being used for the bases of pawns. He then tries to give the set a general overall feel that's similar to the architecture of the city he is in.

I did always wonder why Staunton chess sets were named after famous cities and now I know why. It was quite amazing to find out how the chess set designers came up with their designs. It's quite inspiring to know how they do it