IT started out as a homage to their home city and saw some of Glasgow's most famous landmarks replicated into chess pieces.

The Glasgow-themed chess set became a hit and business has been booming for product design graduates Michael O’Donnell and Alex Duff.

Now they are set to make their next move as they are taking their chess themed business nationwide expanding with sets depicting other Scottish and UK cities.

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The duo designed a sustainable chess set with all of the figures representing iconic Glasgow landmarks. The Clydeside Chess set includes the Duke of Wellington on his horse with the trademark cone as the knight; pawns are represented by the Armadillo and the Finnieston Crane is the rook.

Demand for their high-end product booming, and now they are now set to replicate their success with new versions for other cities.


Clydeside Chess idea will be replicated to other UK cities

Clydeside Chess idea will be replicated to other UK cities


Each piece was designed and manufactured by the pair using a CAD software programme and a 3D printer. They are printed using an eco-friendly resin produced from soya beans so they are sustainable and compostable when no longer wanted.”

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.

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Mr O'Donnell, 24, said: “Alex and I were at university together where we became best friends. We felt that global cities like New York and London get all the love in the world of design and cultural promotion and that our home city of Glasgow was not represented at all.

“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 utilising 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.”


Michael O’Donnell and Alex Duff are taking their city chess set idea nationwide

Michael O’Donnell and Alex Duff are taking their city chess set idea nationwide


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 colour 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.

Mr Duff, 25, said: “We have been pleasantly surprised by the high demand for the products, most of which are bought as gifts for people who live in Glasgow or who have moved away but retain connections with the city.

“Our plan is to produce sets that pay homage to other cities that don’t get the attention they deserve, staring with Edinburgh and we are currently in the process of shortlisting landmarks to represent the pieces.

“We will then move on to Aberdeen and Dundee, as well as doing a pan-Scotland set, before moving onto cities in England, starting with Newcastle and Manchester.”


Michael ODonnell and Alex Duff are taking their business nationwide

Michael O'Donnell and Alex Duff are taking their business nationwide


The pair are now working flat out to fulfil orders and, with each set taking around 36 hours to complete, they are planning to invest in new premises and equipment.

“An incredible amount of detail goes into creating the pieces to make them proper reproductions rather than just crude copies," added Mr O'Donnell.

“We take our own photographs of each structure and study it in detail before the process to designing a replica begins and the printer is accurate to within five microns.

“So, if you look at the Finnieston Crane, for example, the chess piece even has the Clydeport sign on the side.

“We want to make prestige products that stand the test of time. Each piece is individually finished and polished so that they look clean and elegant and there are detailed instructions on how to take care of them to ensure they last a lifetime.”