Clay chess set

Clay chess set

A minimalist design approach to the classic chess set

For the creation of an innovative set of chess pieces, Elena Stavropoulou looked at the core components of a chess board itself.– the chequered pattern of the board, the classic monochrome motif, and its repetition.


These elements informed and inspired the design, with the flat surfaces of the squares on the board giving life to the three-dimensional shapes, via sculptural combinations. Two sets were created – one based on slices of leather and the other in white and black clay slices with a matte glaze.

The two materials were selected for their functionality, materiality and practical use – the texture of the materials allowed for the creation of the slices, and lent themselves well to the elements of repetition within the design.

The lowest piece in the game of chess, the pawn, is given a rigid, disciplined character – a cube in its plainest form.

Meanwhile, rising up in the hierarchy, the rook, the knight and the bishop have intermediate heights, created by altering the surfaces of the initial pawn shape in one or two directions. This assures both the height and shape in relation to the diminutive pawn.

Finally, at the summit, the surfaces are shifted even further upwards to create the king and queen and to symbolise their position at the top of the hierarchy, and their importance in the game of chess.