Edinburgh's famous landmarks reimagined in new chess set created by Scottish duo

A new chess set will give players the chance to see Edinburgh's most famous landmarks – albeit in miniature form – from the comfort of their own homes.

By Annabelle Gauntlett
Friday, 15th July 2022, 4:55 am

Friends Michael O’Donnell and Alex Duff, who met on a design course at university, have designed an exclusive chess set, with all of the pieces representing well-known buildings and locations in the capital.

In the new set, the kings are Balmoral Hotel models, while the queens are tiny Scott Monuments. The bishops are Dugald Stewart Monuments, the rooks Edinburgh Castles and the knights Greyfriars Bobby statues.

Alex, 25, said: “We didn't include the Scottish Parliament because picking a building to be a chess piece is a tricky process.

Michael O’Donnell and Alex Duff have designed an exclusive chess set, with all of the pieces representing different Capital buildings and locations.

“We felt for any landmark to be included, it had to meet three different criteria – it had to be iconic, to be distinct enough in shape that you would recognise it at a glance, and we had to be able to manufacture it, using our technology.”

Michael, 24, said: “The pawns are represented by Murrayfield stadium. We considered the football stadiums, but decided we’d remain neutral rather than risking offending either of the two clubs.

"We both love Scotland and we felt it would be nice if we did something that represents our home country. Global cities like Paris and London always seem to get attention in the world of design and culture while Edinburgh and Glasgow tend to get overlooked. We felt we’d like to pay tribute to those cities and to show the world what fantastic places they are to live in.”

Each piece was designed by the pair using a CAD software programme and produced using a 3D printer. They are fashioned from a sustainable eco resin made mainly from soya beans to ensure that they can be disposed of in an environmentally friendly way.

The 'rook' of the chess board is honoured by Edinburgh Castle

The company 3D Scotland was set up by the two friends who launched their first version of the game dedicated to their home city, Glasgow, which became a massive hit when it went on sale at SDX stores.

The Edinburgh version of the chess set will go on sale at the Scottish Design Exchange’s new outlet at The Tron Kirk on the Royal Mile when it opens next week.

Michael said: “We thought it fitting that the sets should go on sale first at the Tron Kirk, another great Edinburgh landmark.”

The sets, delivered in a specially designed presentation box and accompanied by a brochure explaining the background to their manufacture, retail at £225.

Edinburgh city's chess board

Individual pieces are also sold in bespoke gift boxes. They also have their ‘mini’ sets coming out soon which is a shrunken down version of the set retailing at £79.99. The sets are produced in black and white and bespoke colour versions can be produced to order.

The friends are now working hard to fulfil orders. Each set takes around 36 hours to complete and so they are looking to speed up the process by investing in new premises and equipment.

Michael said: “A lot of detail goes into producing each of the pieces to make sure that they are authentic reproductions rather than crude copies. We photograph each of the landmarks and study their detail before starting the process of creating a graphic image of them, ready for 3D printing which is done to within five microns.”

Customers enjoying a game of chess with a birds eye view of Edinburgh city