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Spanish Designer Jaime Hayón Creates Installation in Trafalgar Square
The Tournament in Trafalgar Square. Photo: Susan Smart Photography.

LONDON.- A centrepiece of this year’s London Design Festival is located in the heart of London, in Trafalgar Square. The Tournament, an installation created by Spanish designer, Jaime Hayón consists of a gigantic chess set, with 2m high ceramic chess pieces designed by Hayón on a specially created mosaic glass chess board. The installation, which is set between the two fountains in Trafalgar Square, will be in situ from Saturday 19 – Wednesday 23 September.

Each of the 32 chess pieces was handcrafted by Hayón, working with Bosa, the Italian ceramics experts in Veneto, Italy. Many of the chess pieces reference specific iconic buildings in London and their domes, towers and spires. Elements of the city of London and its history are encoded on the pieces using Hayón’s very personal style. Each chess piece is unique and hand-painted by Hayón himself.

The chess pieces are supported by a wooden base on castors so that they can be moved around easily, and there is a metal frame within the ceramic form to provide stability. The chess board is made of mosaic glass tiles created by Italian tiling specialists, Bisazza. Rising above the giant tiled chessboard are elevated platforms where players sit in large, high-backed chairs directing their pieces around the board. The London Design Festival are actively encouraging the general public to apply to take part in the chess games and come down and play or simply watch and enjoy this community spectacle.

The Tournament is inspired by London and its history and heritage. The Battle of Trafalgar was organised like a chess game of naval strategy – the notes and images show how carefully it was worked out by Admiral Nelson when the British Navy defeated the combined fleets of the Spanish and French navy.

Jaime Hayón comments: “I’ve lived in London for over 3 years during which time I have been able to discover the city, its history and heritage. I am able to represent all of this using my own personal style. I really like the idea that Londoners and other visitors can come to Trafalgar Square – such a central focus of London – to wander around my installation and perhaps even take part in a game of chess.” Ben Evans, Festival Director, comments, “Jaime Hayón brings a fresh energetic perspective to London and his ideas are both dynamic and witty. He was the obvious choice for such a project.”

The idea behind The Tournament was to create a design spectacle and a performance which actively involves the public. Ben Evans, Director of the London Design Festival, said, "Trafalgar Square is the heart of London with tens of thousands of people passing by everyday. Jaime Hayón has created a spectacle that will draw people towards it and show them how dynamic and fun design can be."

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