Go back


Rethinking a well established product to reach new audiences

Project goals
  • Redesign chess
  • Reach new audiences
Project type
  • Graphic design
  • Product design
  • User research
My roles
  • Individual project (everything)
Final images at the bottom of the page.

Project context

In the first semester of the Global design International BA at IADE, we were given the challenge to explore new markets for a very well established game/product: chess.

To complete this challenge we had to, in 10 weeks, find a new target audience for chess and develop a new product specifically for the chosen group.

I decided to go a step further and develop not only the final product but two versions of that same product with different objectives and the whole brand that frames these products in the market as well as some marketing pieces.

Even though the 2D version of the product was created prior to the 3D, I will describe the process as if they were both developed at the same time to reduce the complexity of the case study.

In the end, this project was graded 20/20.

Problem statement

Chess isn’t being used to its full potential. New markets and opportunities need to be found for this classic game.

To use chess to its full potential, I found and researched about an audience that isn’t usually attracted by the game and visually re-designed the game to meet that audience’s requirements.

Thought Process

To redefine a product that is as well established as chess is without changing its core functions and rules, it became evident that most of my work would be centered around the visual aspects.

This being said, I worked both on a 2D and a 3D version of the product, with the 2D being meant for digital production.

All the aesthetics were crafted for a very specific audience generally described as “tourists visiting Portugal”.


1. Audience identification and research

In this project, I was able to choose which target audience I wanted to work with.

This being said, I strategically chose and researched about an audience that is usually not interested in chess at all. That Audience can be generally described as “tourists visiting Portugal”.

My research focused on particular points like interests, income level, aesthetic preferences, and consumer habits.

2. Product ideation and planning

With a well-defined target audience, I started to imagine what the ideal chess game would look like for that audience.

At this stage, the physical properties of the product (size, weight, materials, etc…) started to be taken into account.

3. Visual language

Chess as well defined semiotics which make the pieces recognizable. While redesigning the pieces, I had to make sure that they stayed recognizable even though they have a completely different form from the original ones.

The pattern also had to be carefully thought out to make sure it was different from the classical one and attractive to the target audience while still being recognized by any player.

4. Color palette

As I usually do whenever I get to choose the style, I went for a very simple and plain color palette. The main colors are red and green, which directly represent the Portuguese flag. The third color used, in less quantity, was dark blue that can be found in traditional Portuguese cutlery.

These color are of great contrast between each other and make it easy, even for people with sight problems, to identify the different pieces and teams in the game.

The board was kept black and white to make sure that this game was still recognized as chess and not any other board game.

5. Building the 2D version

To make this game suitable for the digital world, in case I ever wanted to publish it online, I designed a 2d version of it and built it from cardboard and MDF.

The pieces were made using laser cutting, while the board was hand-cuted from cardboard. Both the pieces and the board were hand-painted, the pieces with acrylic ink and the board with colored pencils.

For this version of the product, I also designed and built a simple package for the product to be sold within.

It is also with mentioning that I operated and prepared files for both the professional printer and laser cutter by my own.

6. Building the 3D version

Designing the 3D version of the game was a matter of expanding the game previously created on the Z-axis. However, this is not as simple as it sounds.

At this stage, I had to worry about the materials, ergonomics, weight, and durability of the game.

For this version of the game, I decided to make something bigger and heavier that was meant to stay in a table instead of being carried around like the 2D version. The materials used were PLA for the pieces and both OSB and 5mm acrylic for the playing board.

The pieces were 3D printed, while the board was cut in carpentry that I have access to. Again, it is important to mention that I prepared all the files and operated all the machines used.

7. Branding

Since this brand’s only market is the one represented by “Tourists visiting Portugal”, the logo and color scheme were chosen based on that audience.

As previously mentioned, the colors used in the product were blue, red and green. However, because green and red represented different teams while blue is just a decorative color, I chose blue as the main brand color to make the brand unbiased towards the game.

The logo was created by using a simplified silhouette of the Portuguese geographical area and joining it with a modified sans-serif font.

The name “Saudade” is a word from the Portuguese vocabulary that has no translation in any language.

Final thoughts and reflections

During this 10week project, I got to learn a lot about the (guided) development of a project from market research to the final product. Most of these lessons have already been used in other personal projects present in this portfolio.

I particularly enjoyed the building part where I got to use the laser cutter and the carpentry again, as well as trying 3D printing for the first time (none of the equipment used belonged to the university).

As always, I’ll be glad to answer any of your questions or give further explanation on any topic.

Drop me a line at hello@josegoncalves.dk or contact me through this page.