Design firm set to use Dumfries inspiration for iconic landmark chess set


A design firm is seeking inspiration from Doonhamers for an iconic landmark chess set.

Product design graduates Michael O’Donnell and Alex Duff combined their love of their home city and their favorite game to create a burgeoning business.

After designing a sustainable chess set with all of the figures representing iconic Glasgow landmarks they are now turning their attention to the rest of Scotland.

And they are seeking inspiration from Doonhamers to tell them what landmarks should be chosen to represent Dumfries.

The friends, who have set up a company called 3D Scotland, started selling the chess sets at Scottish Design Exchange stores in Glasgow and Edinburgh. The SDX provides a high street presence for hundreds of independent artists and craftspeople.

Michael, 24, said: “Having sold hundreds of the Glasgow chess sets, we are now experiencing huge demand from customers from across Scotland, asking if we’re planning to do different versions.

Alex Duff (left) and Michael and O'Donnell of 3D Scotland
Alex Duff (left) and Michael and O’Donnell of 3D Scotland

“Where better to start than the home of Burns? The problem is that there are so many iconic buildings and structures in Dumfries, where do we start?

“There are some obvious contestants, like The Midsteeple, Devorgilla Bridge and the Robert Burns House, but what chess figures should they represent? And are there any other landmarks that don’t immediately spring to mind that we should include?

“We’re keen that Dumfries should be represented in a Scottish version so we’re looking for suggestions about what to include and in what position. People can contact us by email, through our website or on social media.”

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Alex and Michael were at university together where they became best friends. In starting their own business, they felt that global cities like New York and London were already widely represented commercially and culturally and they wanted to focus their attention instead on Glasgow.

Alex, 25, who now lives and works in Aberdeen, said: “We wanted to pay homage to our hometown and to show the world what a wonderful place Glasgow is to live and work in. As well as utilizing the skills we were learning at university we also wanted to do something that was enjoyable as a hobby.

“We were both studying product design at Glasgow School of Art and Glasgow University. In order to show Glasgow some love, we decided to design a chess set with each of the pieces represented by an iconic Glasgow landmark.

“So, the king is represented by the main Glasgow University building, the Rook by the Finnieston Crane and the pawns by the Armadillo. We both went to see Limmy at the Armadillo and we felt we couldn’t leave it out.”

The sets, delivered in a specially designed presentation box and accompanied by a brochure explaining the background to their manufacture, retail at £225. Individual pieces are also sold in bespoke gift boxes.

The sets are produced in black and white and bespoke color versions can be produced to order. There is a green and blue set for players who are, like Alex and Michael, rival Old Firm fans.

To contact Alex and Michael email [email protected] or visit or

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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