In our screen-obsessed age, there is something to be said for the simple luxury of sitting down to play a game of backgammon. It’s an opportunity to unplug, slow down and engage with loved ones - to truly live in the moment and be present.
Such is the philosophy of Alexandra Llewellyn, a London-based designer who creates beautifully handcrafted backgammon sets, luxury games and bespoke furniture. She founded her eponymous label in 2010 after training as a fine artist and working in product development. With her mother a fashion designer and her father a garden designer, her early life was spent surrounded by beauty. “I have made things all my life and have been lucky to have grown up with an appreciation of beautiful things,” she tells me. “Both my parents have amazing taste and we were always encouraged to look and to appreciate. In the same vein, we are a close family and games featured a lot when we were growing up. Backgammon was one of many games we played.”
It was on a family trip to Cairo as a young child that Alexandra first fell in love with the game. “I will always remember the thrill of once playing backgammon with a man 10 times my age with whom I shared no language, no culture and no references, but we still communicated through a game of backgammon, and there was a lot of laughter,” she recalls. The moment stuck with her and the conviviality it generated continues to motivate her approach to design. “That absolutely still feeds what I do,” she says. “I love creating beautiful objects that are also games; they draw people in to play and talk and to be with each other… We sometimes joke in the studio about creating world peace through backgammon – pitching two warring countries and sitting them down to get to know each other over a game of backgammon.”