Dominoes—with their distinctive grid structure, numeric system, and dotted patterns—are a designer's paradise. "As objects, they have to be tactile and resilient," says designer Derek Welsh, who teamed up with design firm Graphical House of Glasgow, Scotland, to rethink the 28-piece table game and create, as he puts it, "an exquisitely handsome, handmade product." The designers chose a combination of solid birch timber and white laminate for the Semaphor domino pack. The lined etchings, in lieu of the domino's traditional spots, loosely echo semaphore signal flags and ask players to match geometric patterns instead of numbers. To test their new take on the ancient tiles, which have survived mostly unchanged since first appearing in 12th-century China, the designers staged a local tournament with friends and clients. The prize: a Semaphor set. ($180, semaphor-oblique.com)
[Photo by Joel Stans; Prop Styling: Janine Iversen]
A version of this article appeared in the May 2013 issue of Fast Company magazine.