Our Design Favorites of the Week Is a Game of Chess Between Board Games and Furniture

Isabella Prisco
·7 minuto per la lettura
Photo credit: COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2020
Photo credit: COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2020

From ELLE Decor

Two worn out chairs and a scratched wooden table sit in the dusty corner of an orphanage basement. Here, a long game of chess (and life) begins for Elizabeth Harmon, the enigmatic and hypnotizing lead character in The Queen’s Gambit, a new miniseries from Netflix. Seven episodes, created by Scott Frank and Allan Scott, are inspired by the novel of the same name written by Walter Travis in 1983, recounting a story that might resemble your standard sports drama. But The Queen’s Gambit, in reference to the opening chess move, is so much more.

The freedom little Beth longs for is quickly transformed into a hellish whirlwind of obsessions and addictions that draw her through the continuous ups and downs of victories and defeats, and recklessness and genius. For Elizabeth, played by the fantastic Anya Taylor-Joy, chess becomes a fertile land of power and fear that both protects her from ghosts of the past and reveals her worst future, ready to shatter into a thousand pieces with every débâcle.

Photo credit: COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2020
Photo credit: COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2020
Photo credit: COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2020
Photo credit: COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2020

The polarized relationship Elizabeth establishes with the playing field, and with life, pulls us closer to the world of chess to understand its complexities and evolutions even as simple spectators. And never like today have we had so much time to appreciate the value of reflection and, of course, reason. Lazy by necessity and not by ineptitude, we flee from all that is uncertain, bowing instead to the voracity of immediacy. But today, closed up in our homes, as the sun sets earlier each day followed by a nationwide curfew, perhaps the logical rhythm that distinguishes the dynamics of chess might help us in our new living spaces. Paolo Maurensig, in his book The Lüneburg Variation, writes: “Those who don't play chess may tend to think of it as a tedious game, best suited to idle eccentrics and the elderly - people with vast patience and plenty of time to waste. This is only partly true, for chess also requires uncommon energy and childlike mental vivacity. If players are sometimes portrayed as old men with furrowed brows, that is merely a symbolic depiction of an activity that consumes days, years, and even lifetimes in a single, unquenchable flame. Players relish the paradoxical compensation: time is forever frozen in a loop of the eternal present, while life away from the board comes to seem unbearably fast-paced.” A way out then, that needs no reality beyond. The fictitious confines between body and mind can be crossed in a long pause that reconsiders the old meaning of leisure: to wander. And while Elizabeth imagines ethereal chessboards take form and movement above her head to explore the limits of computation, perhaps we can capture that sense of logical evasion for a bit of simple distraction. Waiting for all of this to pass.

Photo credit: COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2020
Photo credit: COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2020

With this, we present our Design Favorites of the Week as an invitation to play: take a seat on a comfortable armchair before a table, and in solitude or company, allow yourself a moment of serious carelessness. Between hands of cards and crystal sets, keep your thoughts at bay and make room for recreation — all without renouncing the checkmate of design.

Vismara Design - Chess Table Scaccomatto

Photo credit: Courtesy Photo Vismara Design
Photo credit: Courtesy Photo Vismara Design

From Vismara Design, Scaccomatto is an elegant raised game table: the mechanism elevates the inlaid playing table in ebony and mother of pearl from the pedestal on which it rests below, clad in a thin tempered glass that makes it perfect for decor or competitive play. The internal area holds the chess pieces, forged in anodized aluminum, along with the pieces for checkers and backgammon. Plus, you can also embellish what might look like a simple side table with a secondary tray for backgammon.

www.vismara.it

Baccarat - Scacchi di Jeux de Cristal

Photo credit: Laurent Parrault HD
Photo credit: Laurent Parrault HD

Translated into crystal for Baccarat, Marcel Wanders transforms the king of games and the game of kings into a full-fledged numbered edition. For the Jeux de Cristal collection, Scacchi is an incredible chess table with white and black marble on which 32 crystal pieces attack and defend each other: the figures of the game, realized with the lost-wax casting technique, take the form of a crystal drop to capture all the surrounding light. From the horse’s main to the miter and the hem of the bishop’s robe, the Dutch designer revisits the figures with humor and poetry. The King and Queen with red lacquered crowns add a special touch rendering homage to Baccarat’s rouge à l’or.

www.baccarat.it

Cassina - Lady

Photo credit: Courtesy Photo Cassina, DePasquale+Maffini
Photo credit: Courtesy Photo Cassina, DePasquale+Maffini

Welcoming volumes, round angles, and a low seat make the Lady armchair by Marco Zanuso a perfect seat for a game of dice or checkers. An icon of ‘50s Italian design, it stands out for an extraordinary modern construction: in addition to being the first armchair upholstered in expanded polyurethane and foam rubber, it introduces a spring system with reinforced elastic belts for a greater level of comfort. Awarded the Medaglia d’Oro at the IX Triennale di Milano in 1951, Lady was re-issued in 2015 by Cassina, whose prized textiles include a selection signed by Raf Simons to exalt the original aesthetic with contemporary style.

www.cassina.com

Fornasetti - Cortile Chess Set

Photo credit: Courtesy Photo Fornasetti
Photo credit: Courtesy Photo Fornasetti

Closed and posed on the center of a coffee table, or resting above a bookcase, it looks like a simple ornamental box. Open, it reveals all its marvelous functionality. It’s the Cortile Chess Set from Fornasetti, a game set realized in silk-screened and hand-lacquered briar that includes a chess set and decks of cards. The top that closes the chest features a black and white metaphysical pattern referencing one of the company’s classic decorative motifs.

www.fornasetti.com

Poliform - Mad Joker

Photo credit: Courtesy Photo Poliform
Photo credit: Courtesy Photo Poliform

A high backrest and enveloping shells distinguish the Mad Joker armchair by Marcel Wanders Studio for Poliform. The welcoming constructive evolution that supports the seat recalls a project introduced in 2016 by Inverigo, within the Mad collection, as the ideal refuge for the best chess players. After all, matches can last hours and hours — the longest tournament match played with modern rules by Ivan Nikolić - Goran Arsović in Belgrade in 1989, ended in a draw after 20 hours and 269 moves.

www.poliform.it

Tiffany&Co. - Set poker da viaggio

Photo credit: Courtesy Photo Tiffany & Co.
Photo credit: Courtesy Photo Tiffany & Co.

For the Everyday Objects Collection by Tiffany & Co., artisans from the New York maison transformed everyday objects into works of art realized by hand, articulating the high jeweler’s expertise in the creation of prized accessories. This set, which contains everything necessary for a game of poker on the go, revisits the classic card game with a luxurious and original spin. Refined materials, like silver and porcelain add a modern touch to every game. And the box? Tiffany blue, of course.

www.tiffany.it

Moooi - Chess Table

Photo credit: Courtesy Photo Mooi
Photo credit: Courtesy Photo Mooi

Rivalry, cunning, and fun meet at the center of this original Chess Table from Moooi. Designed by Front, the Swedish duo composed of Anna Lindgren and Sofia Lagerkvist, the square table with central support in lacquered wood is also a chess table alternating black and white checks to reveal a comfortable surface for the perfect tête-à-tête showdown.

www.moooi.com

Giorgetti - Centotto

Photo credit: Courtesy Photo Giorgetti
Photo credit: Courtesy Photo Giorgetti

Centotto, the newest game set from Giorgetti, is composed of two sets of 54 poker cards held within a prized double case by artist Roberto Cambi, the creator of Buds and Amazonia, two fantastical projects in ceramic presented this year by the same Brianza-based brand. Giorgetti’s Atmosphere collection then is enriched with a new designer gem — a marvelous object to collect and share with family and friends.

www.giorgettimeda.com

Maxalto - Pathos

Photo credit: Courtesy Photo Maxalto
Photo credit: Courtesy Photo Maxalto

Designed by Antonio Citterio, the collection of Pathos tables from Maxalto is distinguished by the rounded edges of the tabletop. In marble or MDF wood fiber, the top is supported by an X-shaped graphic structure that refines the entire geometry in both rectangular and square articulations. A perfect solution for a game of chess, checkers, board games and, why not, an exciting game of solitaire.

www.bebitalia.com/it/maxalto