Negative Space Chess Set
by Stefan Gougherty


The pieces in this chess set by American designer Stefan Gougherty are formed from voids drilled into transparent acrylic blocks (+ slideshow).

Most Unusual Chess Set by Stefan Gougherty

Pieces in Gougherty's Negative Space Chess Set are made from transparent acrylic cubes with different negative spaces cut into them. The voids are then painted. "After researching various methods of fabricating something clear," Gougherty told Dezeen, "I realised that drilling cavities inside acrylic blocks using a milling machine would produce a new expression, especially when exaggerated with paint."

Most Unusual Chess Set by Stefan Gougherty
From left to right: pawn, rook, knight, bishop, queen, king

The central voids are shaped to look like pared-down versions of traditional chessmen. "The challenge was [to translate] the classic chess pieces we are familiar with into distilled geometric cousins," said Gougherty.

Most Unusual Chess Set by Stefan Gougherty

Each shape refers to the way the piece moves around the board. For example, the knight is L-shaped to indicate that it can move two squares in one direction and one in another. "Before this project I knew very little about chess," Gougherty revealed. "It was fascinating to learn how the game evolved and why the pieces are styled the way they are."

Most Unusual Chess Set by Stefan Gougherty

The bishop is represented as an angled line because it travels across the board diagonally. Other pieces are simplified versions of their standard counterparts.

Most Unusual Chess Set by Stefan Gougherty

The chessmen can be strung together using the centre holes and cube shapes allow the pieces to stack for storage. The sets were commissioned by American interiors firm Geremia Design and come in either yellow, white or red with black.

  • boooo!

    How bout a picture of using it to ACTUALLY PLAY CHESS.

    • Luke

      Are you finding it a challenge to picture these on a chess board?

      • Airborne

        Luke, there are a lot of things going on in the blocks. The whole thing might get too confusing on a black and white chess board. It could be a jumble of highlights, glares, shadows, secondary shadows, ambient occlusion, reflections and refractions. Even great artists cannot visualise this without reference.

      • Jerome

        Hey, most of the time, when you play chess, you look DOWN on to the pieces, not from the side. So, I team up with boooo! (if you look at the last photo, it seems very difficult to actually recognize the pieces, even more from a view at an angle!) Maybe you find it a challenge to think of this?

  • amsam

    Yeah, it doesn’t bother me nearly as much as shoes without feet and chairs without butts. At the end of the day, chess sets are as decorative as anything else, and this is certainly good looking.

  • amsam

    [by the way dezeen, I think you mean “pared-down” not “paired-down”] :)

  • Paul

    Can I buy one? If so, where?