Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The BKF Butterfly Chair


The summer of my fifth year,  an architect and his family moved next door to our family in suburban Atlanta.  Besides their having a young daughter near my age to play with, there were other things facinating to me about these new neighbors:  The father (architect) drew "pictures" for a living! They had the most intriguing furniture in their house.  I was smitten the first time I laid my eyes on the two butterfly chairs in their living room.  I haven't changed my mind about this chair and especially since acquiring one myself many years ago.   I still love the chair and consider it very comfortable for sitting.  A couple of people I know dislike the chair because they have a hard time getting out of it.  I don't believe that's a reason to dislike a chair.  Maybe they are just out of shape, but I think a comfortable chair is a comfortable chair.  Let's see if I still feel that way when I'm 95! I've been in love with this chair ever since.

Flash forward to 1990, I was living in a downtown apartment in the (lively bohemian) Capital Hill neighborhood in Seattle finishing up my masters degree in architecture. In the corner of the apartment building common laundry room was a sign "take it or leave it" for disposing of unwanted items. I walked past the pile of sturdy black bent rods at least three laundry days before my subconscious spoke to me in my apartment one day and said: "Hey, that's a disassembled butter fly chair down there in the laundry room!" My heart thumping, I ran downstairs and grabbed all the unclaimed rods---I'm sure no one else had recognized the object that was a pile of bent rods, either! I assembled the pieces on my living room floor. It took me an hour to figure it out! I had a local sail maker sew a canvas sling for it. Butterfly chair: a simple beautifully designed object that holds my affection.

I ran across several photos of the classic butterfly chair as I was compiling a recent post about sheepskin rugs.   I'm going to post a bit about the Butterfly Chair origin pulled from Wikipedia.
 from Wikipedia:

tripolina inglesa, siglo XIX

tripolina italiana, años 30
The BKF chair  is a modern update of the Paragon chair which was first made for use as campaign furniture in the 1870s. A later version of the design was known as the Tripolina chair, a portable chair introduced in the early 20th century. Jorge Ferrari Hardoy along with Antonio Bonet and Juan Kurchan developed the BKF in 1938 for an apartment building they designed in Buenos Aires. On July 24, 1940, the chair was shown at the 3rd Salon de Artistas Decoradores exhibition where it was discovered by the Museum of Modern Art. At the request of MoMA design director Edgar Kaufmann Jr., Hardoy sent 3 pre-production chairs to New York. One is in the MoMA collection and one is at the Frank Lloyd Wright house Fallingwater, but no one knows where the third chair went. Naming the BKF as one of the "best efforts of modern chair design," Kaufmann accurately predicted that it would become extremely popular here. Likewise, Hans Knoll recognized its commercial potential and added it to the Knoll line in 1947.

Click on the photos for a larger view...


 Hannah Austenfeld


  1. Above Butterfly Chair is too beautiful, the Butterfly Chair is in my eyes the best chair designed in the 20th century. Nobody else managed with that little material and that big an imagination to create such a timeless and relaxing chair like the Butterfly Chair of Ferrari-Hardoy...

  2. It's awesome design.From the very beginning Butterfly Chair is being liked by everyone for its design and comfort. The chairs shown in the blog have taken the beauty to a step forward.




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