Whether you like him or not, the world of architecture would be significantly different, if not impoverished, without Frank Gehry and his contributions to the field. If it were not for him, we can be sure that the timid, conservative practice of architecture would have dithered far longer before seeking the praxis and technology of other industries, as Gehry would do with his "Fish" scultpure for the Barcelona Olympics, which he realized with the help of CATIA (borrowed from the French aerospace industry). More evident, Gehry singlehandedly catalyzed the building of the last decade-and-a-half's worth of "singular" icons with the completion and huge success of the Guggenheim Bilbao, whose extravagant folds and naive symbolism not only catapulted the architect's career, but that of his fellow so-called "decon" architects--as pitifully and famously canonized by Philip Johnson to be Peter Eisenman, Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind, and Coop Himmelb(l)au--transforming their "radical" paper architecture into the formally exuberant and politically disengaged cultural works since commissioned all over the world. Lastly, Gehry would revive the tired, by now laughable concept of the architect as "Renaissance man", with the skills and, most importantly, the vision to consolidate seemingly disparate fields of thought into a commensurate architecture capable of effectuating aesthetic changes for life at all scales, from object museums and apartment towers to jewelry and now bespoke chess sets.
Commissioned by Tiffany & Co., Gehry designed this $25,000 chess set as a collection of distinct micro-structures. Each of the pieces is wrought in fine bone-china and rendered in striking form, with the knights curved slightly to facilitate their L-shaped turns, the Queen's shifting garb alluding to the multi-directionality of her movements, and the rigid, if hollow trunks of the rooks preventing any diagonal drifting. Even the pawns, those anonymous forgotten, have been partially individualized, here granted close-range cannons cocked at every angle. Time will tell if they prove the future equivalents of the Lewis Chessmen.