Queen of the Board: Modern Chess Sets

Queen of the Board: Modern Chess Sets

Tess Wilson
Jun 21, 2012

When I wrote about The Most Glam Games: Outdoor & Indoor, readers wondered where the chess sets were. The truth is, I've always been intimidated by chess and its complex strategy (when I play games, my strategy is simple: win). Also, so many chess sets have a certain Lord Of The Rings aesthetic, and while I adore LOTR, it seems like a tricky style to incorporate into a modern apartment...

  • The Bauhaus Chess Set by Naefe Spiele AG is available from Quintessentia- please note the board and the pieces are sold separately, putting the total for this beautiful set at $722.
  • The Lanier Graham chess set from MoMA is lovely in its simplicity. Made of cherry and maple, the pieces all fit together like a puzzle for easy & elegant storage. But note- there is no board, just pieces!
  • The Log Chess Sets by artist Peter Marigold are charmingly rustic yet edgy. All of the pieces are cut from a single branch, and the squares are demarcated in graphite. His unique, handmade sets are available from Phillips de Pury.
  • Adin Mumma designed the Wobble Chess Set from Umbra, and while I'm sure the movement of the pieces adds interest to a contemplative game, it's the beautifully undulating board that caught my eye.
  • Natural Chess creates custom chess sets, each one requiring about 32 hours of labor. The inlaid board is spectacular, like wood made into jewels.
  • Once again, Hermés brings the lux with this mahogany, rosewood, and leather set. San Francisco's own Upper Playground praises it best: "Damn, that is fresh. We love chess like any Market Street @ 5th kid would love it, and we love Hermés like any Grant downtown kid would love Hermes. So we just love this." I've yet to find it for sale- is it so exclusive that it's hidden from the likes of me? Or maybe it's just sold-out already.
  • Finally, a set I have a soft spot for. Wei Lieh Lee designed this chess gazebo with gorgeous lanterns as the pieces. Not only is it seriously magical, but as Slash Gear pointed out, "I imagine the mental shift required to flip the board over adds a new dimension of trickiness." Being left-handed means I always have to learn how to do things backwards/upside-down, so I appreciate the challenge and fun of upside-down chess.

(Images 1. Trendhunter, 4. ThisNext, all others as credited above)

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