Butterfly Chair_Holding images_Hero (Holding) Image
Photo Courtesy of Cuero Design

Why You Need a Butterfly Chair

There is freedom and beauty in these simple chairs.
Roxanne Robinson Apr 01, 2021
Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on email

Call it the butterfly effect of modern design.  The Butterfly chair has grown so popular that you could say this seat is an equal force of design. Nest Casa takes a look at this beloved chair’s journey from concept to classic.

The Butterfly Chair and La Tripolina

To understand the Butterfly chair, you must first acquaint yourself with the La Tripolina chair. In the late 19th century, an Englishman, Joseph Fenby, invented a wooden and Italian leather folding chair that was used for camping. Its original name in the 1880s was the Paragon chair and rechristened the Tripolina when before WWII it was manufactured in Tripoli, Libya. The humble chairs predated the folding aluminum and nylon strip chairs that soon eclipsed them as a camping or beach chair. However modest the Tripolina chair was, everyone enjoyed it, including Presidents and famous inventors such as Warren Harding, Henry Ford, and Thomas Edison. 

The History of the Butterfly Chair

This functional chair would be rechristened once more in 1938 when it became the first modern Butterfly chair. In 1938, three architects in Argentina—Antonio Bonet, Juan Kurchan, and Jorge Ferrari Hardoy—worked with Le Corbusier studio and formed the architectural collective Grupo Austral in Buenos Aires. It’s pertinent to point out the design scene was booming in late 1938 in this city known as the Paris of South America.

Specifically, the BKF Chair (the initials of the architects who created it), or Hardoy chair, was developed as a component of an apartment building the group designed in the capital city. The chair helped to set the building’s aesthetic mood they wished to convey, and existing furniture on the market didn’t suffice. Unlike the Tripolina, the BKF chair was made from a stationary metal frame with a large leather seat slung from the highest points and held in place by the lowest. The seat is affixed over four rounded steel rods with leather flaps that sip over the frame. While this chair was painted black with a fixed frame and leather seat, over time, variations evolved.

The Butterfly Chair Arrives in the US

Interestingly, only three armchairs were made by the trio. More curious is how they ended up in famous locations in the United States. In March of 1940, the chairs appeared in a trade publication called Retailing Daily captioned as a "newly invented Argentine easy-chair . . . for siesta sitting.” It also became an award-winning chair when the National Cultural Commission’s Salón de Artistas Decoradores exhibition in Argentina bestowed second place on the chair.

These two events caught the attention of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Then-director of MoMA, Edgar Kauffman Jr., was intrigued and asked the designers to bequeath the chairs to the museum. Today, one chair still rests in MoMA while another resides in Frank Lloyd Wright's famous Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, which Kauffman owned. The third is believed to have ended up with Clifford Pascoe of Artek-Pascoe, a contemporary furniture design firm of the era who would determine its popularity.

How the Style Evolved Over Time

Artek-Pascoe’s chair went into production in New York, though slowly due to wartime shortages of metal. It’s here that the chair started to lose provenance as BKF had no control over rights—with Argentina so distant, it was harder to claim ownerships, especially if the patents weren’t filed when arriving in the States. 

This explains why, in 1947, after Hans Knoll acquired the production rights, he later couldn’t fight legal cases when reproductions started popping up. The Butterfly chair was considered a copy of La Tripolina, furthering the issue.

Naming Butterfly Chairs

Post-war, these chairs were seen everywhere. There was a nagging issue that these chairs were  often uncomfortable. The reason may have been how the overall height of people increased in the 20th century. A Swedish entrepreneur named Lars Kjerstadius sought to rectify this. His improvements included making the chair 30 percent larger and filling out the seat to cover a larger area, supporting the body more. Kjerstadius called his version the Mariposa, aka butterfly in Spanish, dubbing his company Cuero Design which Kjerstadius’s son and daughter-in-law now run.

How to Style a Butterfly Chair

Butterfly chairs can easily fit any decor, whether that be traditional, modern, or bohemian. With seat covers in a choice of leather, canvas, suede, or even shearling fur, chairs are customized to any color or decor detail. As they make a great spot to read in, placing near a lamp or window to allow for light is recommended. For example, if placing just one Butterfly chair, an open corner best shows its impressive design. Conversely, a set of Butterfly chairs can rest side-by-side and face a sofa with a coffee table placed in between to create a relaxing conversation area. 

Editor's Pick

Roxanne Robinson
Roxanne Robinson is an award-winning Paris-based American journalist covering luxury and fashion industries with over 25 years of experience. I spent over 18 years at WWD, covering sportswear, accessories and fine jewelry. My career witnessed the shift from print media to the digital age. I gained expert knowledge of the design world, wholesale and retail markets as well as the marketing that supports them. I met endless creatives and business people who create luxury from inception to POS with the consumer. My work has appeared in Forbes.com, BoF, The Hollywood Reporter, CRFashionbook.com, The Jewelry Journal as well in-house publications and websites at Bally, Pomellato, Au Depart and Editorialist.com among others.
0
    0
    CART
    Your cart is empty
      ©NestCasa. All Rights Reserved
      Term and Condition


      Nest Casa LLC respects your privacy and is committed to protecting your personal information. The privacy policy summarizes our practices regarding information collection, use and disclosure practices for www.nestcasa.com.

      Personal Information

      By visiting this website (www.nestcasa.com) you may provide us with personal information you willingly choose to disclose and information we collect as you browse the site. We collect and store your voluntary information by means of Registration Forms, Order Forms, Surveys and Email.

      How Do We Use Your Personal Information?

      We use your personal information to communicate with you if and when necessary in connection with the use of www.nestcasa. com. We may also use your information to provide you with email communication regarding upcoming events, new services and general information about our products and services.

      Opt Out

      We do provide the option to “Opt out” of these communications with www.nestcasa.com.We do provide the option to “Opt out” of these communications with www.nestcasa.com.

      Disclosure Of Your Personal Information

      We do not sell, rent, license, trade or otherwise disclose the personal information of this Web site visitor to unaffiliated third parties. We may disclose information about you if and when it is necessary to comply within The law or enforce our legal rights to protect our business, property and operations.

      Security

      We are committed to your privacy and for this reason we have put in place electronic, physical and managerial procedures to safeguard and prevent unauthorized access to your data. Please note that although all of these measures are in place no transaction that takes place over the internet or wireless network can be 100% guaranteed.

      Changes To Privacy Policy

      Please feel free to contact us with any questions regarding this Privacy Policy at 305-672-9611 or by email at customerservice@nestcasa.com.

      Questions

      Nest Casa LLC reserves the right to change the Privacy Policy and if and when this occurs it will be posted on the website www. nestcasa.com

      Stay updated!
      Subscribe to our newsletter
      Subscribe now to get 10% off. Don't miss out.
        SUBSCRIBE