The Principals Office


Welcome to our new weekly column by The Principals, where every Friday they summon someone or something to the Principals office. Lessons will be learned, tears might be shed, parents could be called.

This week we’re gonna try something new; a kinder, gentler, more positive Principal’s Office. Today we’re calling in a lesser known master-piece (pun intended!) of design: The ALCOA Chess Set, designed by Austin Cox of Austin Enterprises for ALCOA in 1962.


The set was made as a gift ALCOA would send out to customers and is now considered the holy grail of high-end board game snobbery (for further references see the Bronze Bones we produced with TWBE last year). The set is fairly simple, made from anodized aluminum extrusions (thus the ALCOA connect) but the result is pretty damn amazing. A piece of aluminum is squeezed through a die, play-do style. Then each piece is sliced out like a loaf of bread from the extruded bar. From a manufacturing standpoint, this is really brilliant. If it was to be mass produced it would be extremely easy and cheap to make, but the fat cats at ALCOA decided to give these out for free anyway. They originally came with a blue felt, aluminum edged board which matched the snazzy blue-plexi that serves as the cover for the walnut box. This set was probably intended more for peeping than playing, which is OK with us. If you’re searching for the perfect Valentine’s day gift for The Principals, look no further Kimosabe, jump on it!

Grade: A for Aluminum Awesomeness from Austin Cox and Alcoa.

The Principals are a Brooklyn-based interactive design studio 

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