LET’S PLAY: “Yes, we can play,” product designer Oki Sato said of the giant chess set he thought up for Baccarat’s 250th anniversary. The luxurious board game, unveiled on Thursday in Paris, comprises 32 chessmen cut by hand from midnight blue and clear crystal, mimicking Baccarat’s iconic Harcourt glasses. The cutting process alone took 200 hours.

“Baccarat has a very long history and tradition, but there is always fun in the product, and I wanted to express that,” said Sato, adding it would retail at an estimated price of 20,000 euros, or $27,200 at current exchange, in a limited edition of 50 units.

There is plenty more on the celebratory menu. A yearlong exhibition kicked off Friday at Baccarat’s museum in Paris, displaying the house’s art de vivre. The French maison will lend its crystal touch to the windows of a number of department stores around the world, starting with a “Fire and Ice” theme at Bergdorf Goodman next month, while the opening of the first Baccarat Hotel & Residences is slated for later this year, also in New York.

Meanwhile, Sato revealed he had plans of his own. The Japanese designer and architect behind the Nendo agency is part of a large design initiative on Paris’s Rue du Vertbois, backed my French investor Cédric Naudon.

He noted that Naudon “bought the entire street, 40 different spaces,” and enlisted 20 industrial designers, with Sato in charge designing a pastry shop, Tom Dixon a grocery store and Michele de Lucchi a butcher. Patricia Urquiola and the Campana brothers are also part of the cast. “It’s like an all star of designers,” he mused, adding the first stores are to open doors in February.

What’s more, Sato has unveiled a line of sunglasses he developed for Camper at the Maison et Objet home wares show in Paris, which runs until Tuesday. The glasses are done via a novel technique, which allows two lenses to be glued together producing a unique purple-gray color, while a new shoe Nendo developed for Tod’s will make its debut in April at the Solone del Mobile in Milan.


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