We’re outside a red outbuilding on a farm near Linköping. The doors are open, the swallows are chirping and the summer breezes are keeping us cool. Alice Brengdahl and Riina Kauppi, two LiU students, greet us in their painting gear, brushes in hand. They are busy making the 32 chess pieces of their own design.
“It’s been a lot of fun doing the design work, and then following the entire process to the finished pieces, at full scale”, says Alice Brengdahl.
“It’s an important job. At first it was a bit scary, but after a while it started to progress surprisingly well”, adds Riina Kauppi.
In early 2019, LiU’s Property Division announced a competition for second-year students in the Design and Crafts programme. The assignment was to develop a model for chess pieces to fit a 4 x 4 metre square chess board in Studenthuset. Of the nine entries, Lönnspringare won.
“We took inspiration from the phrases in the competition instructions: ‘nature in the space’ and ‘the old in the new’. One side of the pieces shows the traditional chess piece, and the other side is the shape of a leaf – a different leaf for every piece”, explains Alice Brengdahl.
Riina Kauppi gives a few examples:
“The king has the shape of an oak leaf, because the oak is the king’s tree. The queen is shaped like a leaf from an apple tree, because an apple tree produces fruit and represents wisdom. The pawn has the shape of a birch leaf.”
A few weeks after the end of the spring term, Alice and Riina got started. The pieces are made of wood, a material they’re not used to working in. Using a jigsaw they sawed out the pieces according to a template, and then sanded and filled them. They didn’t split the different steps between them; each of them got to do all of the steps.
“The sawing went faster than we thought, but the filling took more time”, says Riina Kauppi.
Linseed oil paint because it ages nicely
Painting takes time. Each piece gets three coats, and each coat takes two or three days to dry. Alice and Riina chose to use linseed oil paint.
“Because it ages nicely and is eco-friendly. The building has been awarded a Gold environmental certification. The colours reflect the four seasons, and our inspiration has been nature, an oak forest near Linköping called Eklandskapet, and the colour of Studenthuset.
Just one coat of paint and the pieces will be finished, well in advance of the opening of Studenthuset.
“We’ll be there when they open the building. In the meantime we have to make a diagram describing the idea behind our chess pieces”, says Riina Kauppi.
“It’s been fun and educational. A completely new experience for us, to do the whole process from concept to finished product, in such a big project”, says Alice Brengdahl.
“Now we know how it works, for the future, if we were to apply for a joint project. We work well together, and we get along great. And we’re proud of what we’ve done! The colours and shape make us happy, and we hope other people will enjoy them in Studenthuset.”
Translated by Martin Mirko