The Style List: Backgammon boards by Alexandra Llewellyn

The exquisite boards, playing pieces and tables are made from sustainable materials, and Alexandra Llewellyn Design has been involved in several humanitarian projects over the years.

The Lucky 6’s backgammon board will be auctioned in October, with a part of the proceeds going to The Halo Trust. Courtesy: Alexandra Llewellyn Design
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Alexandra Llewellyn first encountered the game of backgammon as a child, while walking through the streets of Cairo with her Egyptian step-grandfather. She later became fascinated with the idea that board games operate as an independent vocabulary, requiring neither a common language nor culture.

In 2010, she launched Alexandra Llewellyn Design, specialising in the creation of unique backgammon boards and playing pieces made from sustainable materials such as mother-of-pearl and turquoise. There are currently eight types of handmade boards on offer – with prices starting from Dh19,700 – and each can be personalised with initials or messages. Custom-made boards, pieces and tables can be commissioned, with previous buyers including Richard Branson and Elle Macpherson.

The brand has also been involved in various humanitarian projects over the years. A visit to Kabul in 2012 led to a collaboration with Turquoise Mountain, an educational initiative that aims to regenerate Afghanistan’s traditional crafts and historic areas. The resultant wooden Afghan Tulip board features hand-painted tulips and uses traditional Afghani crafts and materials, including lapis lazuli and wood carving.

More recently, the brand teamed up with Clarks and The Halo Trust, a British landmine-removal charity. Llewellyn is one of 14 artists and designers who were asked by the shoe brand to reimagine Clarks' much-loved Desert Boot and design a piece inspired by The Halo Trust.

Llewellyn says she feels “passionately” that everyone has the right to safely walk to school or work. So she decided to refashion the deadly landmine into a game. “I realised that the traditional form of the backgammon board could be inverted and made into a radial design,” she says, adding that it is a reference to the gamble people take every day, walking through fields of landmines.

The board, Lucky 6’s (pictured), will be auctioned in October, and 100 per cent of the proceeds will go to The Halo Trust.