top of page

Artistic Intelligence

Updated: Oct 11, 2023

A Pair of Cushions with a chess board pattern and a caption saying Artistic Intelligence
CHESS Cushion by Petunia Bloom Home

Photo credit : Evalina Schmidtke for Petunia Bloom Home: Chess Cushion

What relevance does a cushion have to chess? Allow me to explain. The obvious connection lies in the design of the cushion's textile, which appears to resemble a chessboard. I had always referred to this textile as the "chess board pattern." I was immediately captivated by this textile from Zinc Textiles, a renowned UK company. The surface of the fabric combined luxurious sheen with the rugged textures of natural virgin wool. Although these two fibers seemed contrary, they managed to coexist harmoniously. I had never seen anything like it in textiles. Curiosity led me to delve into the origins of this unusual fabric, and I discovered a short video clip on the Zinc Textile website that explained how it came to be.

A textile made by Zinc Textiles featuring VIrgin Wool and Viscose fibres in a chessboard pattern
A enlargement of Glynde Fabric in Cedar Colour

Photo: Evalina Schmidtke

I couldn't help but draw a parallel between the game of chess, known for its intellectual challenges, and the seemingly intellectual process behind this fabric design.

Before I continue, I would like to provide some specifics about the Zinc Textile fabric itself: it is called GLYNDE, and is made up of 48% wool, 37% viscose, 11% polyester, and 4% cotton.

Glynde is a village and civil parish in the Lewis District of East Sussex, UK. There is a history of agriculture and sheep farming in this Village.

A picture of a quiet street with village homes in the village of Glynde.
A photo of the village of Glynde in the Lewis District of East Sussex.

The video clip is an interview between Justin Marr, the Design Director at Zinc Textiles, and Martin Hulbert and Jay Grierson from MHD. This interview further piqued my curiosity about the collaborations between textile industries and interior designers. Since I had been referring to this textile as the "chess textile," despite not being a chess player myself, I decided to explore the game of chess as well to discover a connection of the chess board design and the game of Chess.

To set the stage before we begin, I recommend listening to the soundtrack of "The Queen's Gambit," a mesmerizing Netflix series about chess with music by Carlos Rafael Rivera. It sets a dramatic tone, much like the intensity of my own investigations. So grab a cup of coffee if it's morning, or a glass of wine if it's evening, and let's dive into the world of chess.

Here's a link to the soundtrack featured on Netflix:

A photo of a hand carved Chaturanga Set from East India with game pieces representing military units.
Photo of an antique Hand Carved East India Chaturanga Style Sandalwood and Ebony Chess Set.

The game of chess is believed to have originated in Northern India or Eastern Iran around the 6th century. Originally called "chaturanga," it was played on an 8x8 board, with different pieces representing various military units. Over time, the game spread to Persia, where it evolved into "shatranj" and gained popularity in the Muslim empire. Eventually, it made its way to Europe in the 9th century, with the rules and pieces gradually developing into the modern game of chess that we know today. The military origins of chess are quite fascinating. It was initially used as a way to portray battles and simulate warfare strategies. Players had to think strategically and tactically, much like commanders planning their moves on a battlefield. The transition from a military game to a recreational one demonstrates how chess evolved into a means of stimulating intellectual prowess and engaging in mental duels with opponents, rather than a literal battle.

Distraction plays a significant role in chess. It can be employed to divert your opponent's attention and disrupt their plans. This can be achieved by creating threats or forcing them to respond to moves that may not be immediately advantageous but have a long-term impact on the board position. By strategically distracting your opponent, you can potentially gain an advantage or open up new opportunities for yourself.

A Russian Girl playing Chess.
A photo of a young female chess player in front of a chess board.

Photo credit : Pexels

Chess is commonly played in schools and universities, with many educational programs and competitions promoting its popularity and nurturing young talent. The US has produced several world-class players, including Bobby Fischer and Hikaru Nakamura, who have made significant contributions to the game.

 A Black and White  photo of Fischer and Tal at the 1960 Olympiad
Fischer and Tal at the 1960 Olympiad

Photo: Chess Olympiad Wikipedia

Another factor that contributes to chess's popularity is the intellectual aspect of the game. Chess is known for stimulating critical thinking, problem-solving, and foresight. This appeals to individuals who enjoy mental challenges and strategic planning, making it popular among academically-oriented communities, such as universities. The international chess community, as seen in events like the Chess Olympiad, provides an opportunity for players from different countries to come together and showcase their skills in a spirit of friendly competition. This unity and shared love for the game create camaraderie and respect among players, transcending geographical and cultural boundaries. Additionally, chess tournaments and events often facilitate cultural exchange and interaction between players from various countries. This cross-cultural experience fosters understanding, appreciation, and respect for different perspectives and traditions, allowing individuals from diverse backgrounds to connect and build relationships through their shared passion for chess.

Now, let's delve into an element of the game of chess that sheds light on how this textile came to be.

Collaboration plays a key role in the creation of new textile designs when industry experts and interior designers come together. Their combined knowledge and skills can yield unique and innovative results. Industry experts bring their expertise in materials, manufacturing processes, and market trends to the table, while interior designers contribute their creative vision and understanding of aesthetics and functionality. This collaboration involves close communication, exchange of ideas, and joint decision-making throughout the design process. By combining their respective areas of expertise, industry experts and interior designers can create textiles that meet the specific needs and preferences of the desired market or clientele. When industry experts and interior designers collaborate in textile design, there is a mutual exchange of knowledge and ideas. Industry experts contribute their technical expertise and understanding of production processes, which can help streamline and optimize the manufacturing of textiles, leading to greater efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and scalability. On the other hand, the involvement of interior designers enables the infusion of creativity, innovation, and experimentation into the design process. They are often attuned to market trends, customer preferences, and aesthetic appeal, pushing the boundaries of design and bringing fresh perspectives to the collaboration. This blend of technical expertise and creative exploration results in the development of novel textile designs that are both commercially viable and aesthetically compelling.

Zinc Textile, a well-known textile company based in the UK, has partnered with various interior design firms to create innovative textile designs. These collaborations have allowed Zinc Textile to benefit from the designers' expertise, bringing new perspectives and creative ideas to their collections. One notable collaboration was with the renowned interior design firm, MHD. Together, they developed a collection of contemporary textiles that combined Zinc's knowledge of materials and production techniques with MHD's

A photo of a living room with a off-white sofa with bright autumn coloured cushions.  Collection by MHD Design Studio
Photo of Zinc Textile Collaborative Collection with MHD Design Studio

Photo : MHD Design Martin Hulbert

Together, they developed a collection of contemporary textiles that combined Zinc's knowledge of materials and production techniques with MHD's distinctive style and design aesthetic. The result was a collection that offered unique textures, patterns, and colours, suitable for both residential and commercial interior design projects.

Collaborations like these demonstrate how industry expertise and creative input can lead to the creation of groundbreaking textile designs that meet the evolving preferences and needs of the market. Respecting and valuing each collaborator's skills, expertise, and contributions is essential for effective collaboration.

Recognizing the unique strengths that each individual brings to the table creates an environment of mutual respect and fosters trust among team members. Respecting one another's skills also involves actively listening and being open to different perspectives and ideas. This encourages constructive feedback and promotes a collaborative atmosphere where everyone feels heard and valued. Ultimately, this can lead to more innovative solutions and a higher level of collaboration. Furthermore, the enjoyment and enthusiasm for the collaborative process and the skills involved have a significant impact on the project's outcome. When collaborators have genuine passion and enjoyment for their work, it creates a positive and motivating environment. This enthusiasm can fuel creativity, perseverance, and a willingness to go the extra mile to achieve excellent results. Moreover, deriving joy from the skills and expertise of each collaborator can lead to a sense of fulfillment and personal growth. When individuals take pride in their work and recognize the value they bring to the collaboration, it boosts their confidence and inspires them to continue improving their skills. This collective joy and appreciation for the skills involved can create a sense of camaraderie and a shared purpose, enhancing the overall quality and success of the collaborative project.

A Collection of fabrics in Blue / teal tones by Zinc Textiles and MHD Design Studio in a collaboration of design and technology.
Bue toned fabrics in Various textures by Zinc Textiles

Photo : Zinc Textiles with MHD Interior Design Firm Collaboration

Now, you may wonder, "what does a cushion have to do with Chess?" Well, for me, it was a textile created through a collaborative process that represents Artistic Intelligence.

Written by Evalina Schmidtke

October 9th, 2023


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page