Simple yet playful, and decidedly modern, the Bauhaus Chess Set makes a statement that lovers of modern art will appreciate.
The Bauhaus chess set’s unique look catches the eye right away. It’s certainly one of the more artistic and modern-looking chess sets we’ve come across. And yet, its charm lies in its simplicity (and the very apparent supreme-quality craftsmanship of the set). The smooth, clean lines and interesting shapes of the chess pieces are somehow simultaneously modern and timeless. However, the Bauhaus chess set is more than meets the eye. The pieces are not only designed to be artistically striking but are actually inspired by the movement capabilities and value of each piece in the game.
The Bauhaus chess set would make a gorgeous statement piece in any room of the house. It also could be a special gift for anyone who loves both chess and that clean-lined Bauhaus design style. This set closely replicates the original Josef Hartwig Bauhaus Chess Set, which sits on display as part of MOMA’s (Museum of Modern Art) collection in New York City.
Bauhaus Chess Set (576$)
Naef, a company dedicated to producing high-quality wooden toys, is the proud (and only) authorized producer of these replicas of the original Bauhaus chess set. Naef only uses wood from “green” lumber sites in Europe (where the company originated), and the highest-quality paints and varnishes available. Every Naef product is still crafted by hand. Naef’s dedication to quality is apparent in their beautiful Bauhaus chess sets. Made of maple wood, the Bauhaus chess board is a simple 14” square with no borders. The black and wood-grain squares on the chess board measure 1.75”.
The Bauhaus chess pieces are truly the centerpiece of this set. Just like the board, the pieces in The Bauhaus Chess Set are carved out of maple and one side is finished in black – the other retains the wood-grain shade. Instead of the traditional “figurine” style, the Bauhaus pieces are inspired by the movement and function of the piece. The size, or volume, of each piece, is commensurate with its value within the chess game.
The king piece (which measures 2” tall) is represented by a small cube sitting diagonally atop a larger cube. The queen is a sphere sitting atop a large cube. The bishop is an “x.” The knight is a cube with two opposite corners missing. The rook is a large cube. The pawns in this set are small cubes.
The Bauhaus chess pieces are sturdy and durable and they come with their own simple, yet elegantly crafted storage box with a sliding wooden lid, measuring 17” x 3” x 1.5”.
What is Bauhaus?
The Bauhaus School
The concepts of design that make up the Bauhaus style come from early 20th century Germany. In 1919, an architect named Walter Gropius founded an art school in Weimar, Germany, called Bauhaus, which translates in English to “house of building.” The Bauhaus combined fine art, crafts, and technology in a way that was truly revolutionary at the time and remains influential to this day. The Bauhaus only operated from 1919-1933, but its aesthetic continues to influence and inspire designers worldwide in the fields of architecture, industrial design, interior design, furniture design, art, graphic design, and typography.
Sadly, the reason for the premature end to the Bauhaus was pressure the school’s leaders felt from the Nazi regime – who were painting the school’s image as one of Communist intellectualism. However, many who fled or were exiled from Nazi Germany shared the concepts and designs of the Bauhaus, spreading its influence all over the globe.
During Bauhaus’ operational days, its most profitable creation was actually wallpaper. Other notable contributions include the Cantilever style chair and a distinctive modern architectural style, characterized by clean lines and a high degree of functionality. Many buildings around Germany, including row-housing for workers in the city of Dessau, are prime examples of the Bauhaus style. The school also garnered itself considerable international attention when it participated in the building design competition for the Chicago Tribune Tower.
Since the demise of the original Bauhaus school, a number of schools teaching similar design concepts have popped up all over the world. In 1979, the Bauhaus-Dessau College opened its doors – in one of Bauhaus’ own plants, that happened to survive World War II. Though not technically affiliated with the original Bauhaus, its influence is certainly woven through this newer modern design school.
Bauhaus Chess Piece Design
The Bauhaus Chess Set truly makes a great example of the Bauhaus aesthetic. The chess pieces have a smooth, clean look that is attractive but also effective in its functionality. The design of each chess piece is inspired by the way that it moves on the chess board.
The king, for example, is able to move horizontally or diagonally, and this is shown in its design- a cube oriented diagonally atop a larger cube. The queen, who can, of course, glide in all directions, features a sphere atop her cubic base. The diagonal travelers, bishops, are represented by an x-shaped piece. The knights feature an altered cube that suggests the L-shape they are allowed to move in. Horizontal-moving rooks are simple cubes, and the pawns are much smaller cubes. Beyond a stylish look, the pieces are designed this way to serve as a naturally flowing reminder to beginning players of which directions each piece may travel.
The Bauhaus chess sets sold today are replicas of Josef Hartwig’s original chess set, built in 1924, and strive to remain as true to his design as possible. Man Ray, another artist with a unique chess set vision created his iconic chess set in 1920 and it shares some interesting qualities with The Bauhaus Chess Set. Also wood-carved and eschewing traditional chess figurine pieces in favor of creative geometric alternatives, The Man Ray Chess Set features a simple cube for the rook piece, as well. The few remaining Man Ray chess sets are considered highly valuable collectibles, fetching tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction. Fortunately, there are high-quality replicas of both the Man Ray and Bauhaus chess sets available for the rest of us who want one!
Our final thoughts
We absolutely love the unique style of the Bauhaus chess set. It manages to be unique enough to be playful, yet simple enough to be taken seriously. The quality of the craftsmanship on this set is unparalleled, especially when you consider that each piece of this set was carved by hand! We highly recommend this set to anyone who loves unique chess sets, solid-wood chess sets, or is drawn overall to modern-style chess sets. This set is beautiful enough to be on display at MOMA, so just imagine what a statement it will make on display in your home – plus, you can actually play with it!
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