Alice Chess Set

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In 'Alice Through the Looking Glass' by Lewis Carroll, Alice falls through a mirror and on the other side of the mirror, she becomes a piece in a game of chess. Inspired by this, the chess pieces have an opaque mirror finish, when they touch the surface of the board they magically turn transparent and reveal the identity of the piece contained inside them. When removed from the board they revert to being opaque, hiding the identity of the piece. This is a comment on how a chess piece has no value unless it is in play on the board. If removed from the board, a pawn and a queen are equal, in that neither have any value.

The theme of 'Alice Through the Looking Glass' is the difference between the real world and the world behind the mirror. In keeping with this theme there is a contrast between the unlit mirrored piece and the clear glass piece. Each unlit mirrored piece is a smooth and modern shape. Each lit piece is clear glass wht the negative shape of a traditional, delicate Staunton chess piece enclosed within it. In the book the White Knight talks about how he thinks better when he is upside down. In a reference, the White Knights in the set only work when they are placed upside down. This joke is hidden to all but those who know the background of the chess set.

The Chessboard is made out of Lightpoint, a material manufactured by Schott, which is glass that has LED's embedded in it. The pieces are coated with Mirona, a material that turns transparent when light shines through it. When the piece is placed on the board it completes the circuit and lights up the LED under it, turning it transparent like magic.

This product was designed in response to a brief sent by Schott UK Ltd. to final year students of Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. The brief was to explore the potential of Lightpoint, to find new uses, markets and design avenues for the material and to create designs that are newsworthy.


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