Above board: Meet the master craftswomen behind some of the world’s most beautiful bespoke games.

Alexandra Llewellyn first became beguiled by the beauty of board games in Cairo. As a child, she would wander the city’s streets with her Egyptian step-grandfather and, as they walked, her enchantment with the myriad rounds of al fresco backgammon being played down side streets and outside houses grew, until she played her very first game with an elderly local. And with that, she was hooked, as enthralled by the way that it dispensed with language barriers as she was by the game itself. Today, it is that transcendence of cultures and generations that still fascinates her, informing her abiding passion as she creates the exquisite hand-crafted and painted boards with which, decades later, she is now synonymous.

Alexandra trained as a fine artist before working in product development, through which she met many of the craftspeople she still collaborates with today. In 2010, however, she returned to her first love and her roots, launching her eponymous brand with one mission: to create handcrafted board games that are beautiful objects in their own right. Intensely bespoke, she works with her clients to customise her designs to reflect their personalities and to tell the stories that enchant her.

She has been commissioned by luxury brands, A-list figures (she counts Richard Branson, Mark Ronson, Elle Macpherson and Paloma Faith as clients) and royalty, and it’s no stretch to see why. Her bespoke pieces are more than just games; they are works of art. Alexandra was named a Rising Star in Luxury in the Walpole Power List in 2019 and received a commendation for her Excellence in Craftsmanship at the Luxury Briefing Awards in the same year.

Here she sketches out a few of the most winning things in her life.

Follow Alexandra on Instagram here.

Favourite place in all the world?

Home: our cottage in the Warwickshire country in front of the fire with the weekend ahead, having spent a busy week in my other favourite place: London.

Dream holiday?

Great food, sunshine and surroundings, so probably Lake Como. I spent time there as a child and I dream of swimming in those still waters surrounded by mountains and ringing bells.

Most coveted item right now?

An Yves Saint Laurent coat.

Proudest professional moment to date?

Every time I deliver one of my bespoke designs to a client. I wish I could capture that moment and bottle it.

Your dream future project?

To design a cabinet of curiosities with compartments, secret drawers and trompe l’oeil marquetry stone inlays. I love to tell stories and would love to make a piece of furniture that read like the client’s biography.

Who has been your most inspiring mentor, professionally or personally?

My godmother. She has always supported me as an artist and business owner. Her faith in me kept me going.

Where would you live if you could live anywhere?

In a tree house by the sea. I have always dreamt of having a bath in the treetops and a studio to paint up high. I also love the sea. Perhaps I could dive out of my bedroom into the sea...

What book is on your nightstand/ kindle right now?

Papillon by Henri Charriere. I read it over 20 years ago and can’t wait to dive back in. I hardly ever re-read books – 2022 is my year to re-visit the classics.

Best film you’ve seen recently?

Black Cat White Cat. Comedic, amazing cinematography and other worldly, which is what we all need at the moment.

Best binge-watched TV show (and why)?

Succession, needs no explanation! When it was on, I never looked forward to Mondays more.

Top podcast of the moment?

The Guardian Long Read. I am doing a lot of driving between workshops at the moment, so it’s great to have the space to get into some great articles.

If you were an animal, what would you be?

My parent’s dog Daisy – she has the best life imaginable.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

A maker of beautiful things.

Worst job you’ve ever done?

Washing up in a pub where I had to clean out the maggot-infested bins every week.

Favourite dish to cook?

I love to start with ingredients and not know what the final result will be. The joy is in the creating and re-thinking and getting lost in the process. I love to cook, and it is just as much about the making as the final result.

Favourite café/ restaurant?

Brasserie Zedel in London for its un-assuming entrance revealing 1930s splendour, and its simple delicious menu, swiftly followed by Café de Paris in Tangier.

What tune always makes you want to dance?

Do You Wanna Funk by Sylvester.

Favourite website or app?

eXtreme Gammon. A very nerdy response, and it doesn’t look beautiful, but it’s the best way to learn backgammon. A perfect time-filler.

Most useful thing on your desk?

My pot of pens and pencils. One of my makers gave me an electric pencil sharpener for Christmas, and it has changed my life!

Which five people, dead or alive, would you find most interesting to be stuck in a lift with?

Prince, Giacometti, Virginia Woolf, Marlon Brando, Rihanna.

Virginia Woolf 1927
Unknown authorUnknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Favourite building?

The V&A. I go there to feel inspired, to feel at peace and to put life into perspective. They have an amazing collection and I love to work in the library where my mother used to design her fashion collections. It is inherently London.

Favourite Instagrammer or tweeter?

World of Interiors for wonderful inspiration.

Your screensaver?

The sea – I crave the sea. Other than in California, I have always lived so far from it.

What would your biography be called?

Ducking and Diving.

What would be your epitaph?

Made The Most Of It.

By Nancy Alsop
March 2022

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Nancy Alsop


Nancy is a magpie for the best in design and culture.