Staunton Wood Chess Pieces

In the realm of industrial design, a fascinating interplay occurs between technology and the law. It's a domain where the technical aspects of a design often clash with legal categorizations. At its core, industrial design revolves around creating contours and forms that serve a practical function, with the principle that form follows function. This very distinction sets industrial design apart from traditional visual art, where an artist, driven by personal inspiration, creates objects that are appreciated for their aesthetics rather than their utility.

Conversely, industrial designers are motivated by practical problems, seeking to devise functional contours to address those issues. While art aims to evoke passive contemplation and appreciation of beauty, industrial design aims to provide useful solutions to everyday problems. This utilitarian approach allows for variations in the artistic appearance of an industrial design, as long as these variations don't compromise the functionality of the form.

However, a significant challenge arises when it comes to the legal framework surrounding industrial designs. The law distinguishes between ornamental and functional aspects of these designs, each subject to a distinct legal regime. This divide creates a disconnect between technical considerations and the legalities of industrial property.

Let's delve into this differentiation, especially evident in the case of the Staunton Chess Set, to gain a better understanding of how technology, aesthetics, and the law intersect.

The Staunton chess set, introduced in 1849, serves as a prime example. While its success is not solely attributed to its aesthetic appeal, it's vital to recognize that these pieces, despite being considered works of art, also effectively fulfil a practical function. They were created with the primary purpose of serving as chess pieces, and they have fulfilled this function for over 90 years.

This duality in legal protection and technical considerations is not unique to the Staunton chess set. The tension between protecting the form and function of designs can be traced back to the mid-19th century. The double legal system of protection for the form or function of designs has persisted to this day, as seen in Decision 486 of 2000, the Most Popular Industrial Property Regime of the Andean Community. This decision distinguishes industrial designs, safeguarding their outward appearance, from utility models, which protect their practical functionality.

When examining the Staunton chess set, it becomes apparent that it seamlessly integrates three key functions:

  1. An aesthetic function: These chess pieces are not just functional but also visually appealing, creating a sense of satisfaction when observed and appreciated.

  2. A practical function: The pieces are designed to be effective for use in chess games, with distinct shapes that are easily recognizable and manoeuvrable.

  3. A symbolic function: Owning a Staunton chess set bestows a sense of social belonging and pride upon the owner. It signifies an appreciation for tradition and craftsmanship.

In the case of the Staunton chess set, these three functions harmoniously coexist, making it one of the most successful industrial designs in human history.

The legal complexity surrounding industrial designs is not a recent development. The issue of categorizing designs based on their form or function dates back to the 19th century, as evidenced by the 1843 Utility Designs Act and the 1842 Ornamental Designs Act. This duality in legal protection persists, even in modern industrial property regimes.

While the Staunton chess set's design was initially crafted in wood, these characteristics can also apply to plastic chess sets. However, it's crucial to recognize that the material influences the quality of the pieces. Plastic sets, while more affordable, may not capture the virtues of the Staunton design as effectively. The main characteristics of the Staunton chess sets are:

  • A simple, austere, and elegant combination of practical and aesthetic elements, with a focus on functionality over unnecessary adornments.
  • A commitment to ease of use, ensuring that the pieces are easily handled and maneuverer, making them suitable for mass production and serial reproduction.


In industrial design, there's no understanding between technology and law.
From the technical perspective, an industrial design is a contour meant to
Fulfil with a practical function, where form follows function. This precisely tells
design apart from the visuals. The artist, predicated on your own inspiration,
Creates a piece of work to respected, alien to practical although a beautiful object

The designer, however, pressed by a practical problem creates a useful
Contour to solve the difficulty. The purpose of art would be to create the awareness of
Beauty through contemplation that is passive, the goal of the design is to create
Ways that are useful to solve practical issues of everyday life, hence the artistic
Appearance of an industrial design allows for variations
not impact the functionality of the contour.

Unfortunately, the law will not cover the technical concept of a design
Industrial creations are divided by and into ornamental, with its legal system,
And functional or useful, with another regime that is legal. Fundamentally considering as
Staunton Chess Set simply because they tend not to solve practical problems, but works of art reproduced in series Let Us address this difference between specialized issues and law, particularly Present in the area of industrial property, to better comprehend our corpus of Study, the Staunton pattern Initially, in 1849, the Staunton design protected and were registered by pieces was shielded.

However, its success isn't due to its aesthetic look but to the fact
that they might satisfy the practical function for which they were created
pieces 90 years past.

Fortunately, the style of intangible cultural heritage is just not as
Restrictive as industrial property and legally covers all the formal and
Functional aspects of the Staunton chess pieces, using in its study the technical
three functions:

A tasteful function: An attractive object that creates visual and
Psychological satisfaction, and
A symbolic function: giving it a sense of social belonging to the owner
Of the item, but in precisely the same time, some differentiation or singularity.
In the event of the Staunton chess set, these three functions complement
each other nicely, turning them into one of the most successful industrial
designs in the history of humankind.

When the 1843 Utility Designs Act and then the 1842 Ornamental Designs Act were passed probably, the problem of double legal systems to guard the kind or function of layouts dates back to the time under investigation. In the Most Popular Industrial Property Regime of the Andean Community, Decision 486 of 2000, which distinguishes industrial designs, which protects the outward look, of the utility models, which shields the practical functionality, this duality persists for all of us.
The Staunton chess set design was initially devised for wood pieces and is implemented in wood , as they apply for this substance, so we are going to describe its characteristics,

Yet this will not mean that most of the details may be existing in the plastic
ones as well. Nevertheless, remember the main object of the plastic
Quality surrenders to attain an affordable piece. This is the reason why such
Plastic pieces are unsuitable to explain the virtues of the Staunton design.
The main characteristics of the Staunton chess sets are- A simple, austere but elegant combination of its own purposeful aim (practical) and its aesthetic look, foregoing any unnecessary adornment that might hinder a practical use of such pieces.
So it was before, the chess pieces were often excessively decorated
Quite tough to manage them. This also prevented an affordable, mass, and
serial production.