Introducing | The Butterfly Chair + How to Style it
The Butterfly Chair, the B.K.F Chair, the Hardoy Chair or the Sling Chair - no matter what you decide to call it, there's no doubt it's a design icon you're talking about.
This article is to give you an overview of its history, how to find a version that will last for years, and how to style it in your own home.
Let's get to it.
History and why it's an Icon
So, back in the days three Buenos Aires-based architects met while working at the same company in Paris. The three architects, Antonio Bonet, Juan Kurchan, and Jorge Ferrari-Hardoy, crafted the original Butterfly Chair in 1938, which is why it's also know as the B.K.F chair (their initials).
However, this version of the Butterfly Chair wasn't as original as you might think. It is said that the B.K.F version that the three architects created was inspired by the Tripolina chair - a folding chair made of wood and leather by the British engineer Joseph Beverly Fenby in 1877.
Anyway, in 1940 the three architects presented the B.K.F chair at a Buenos Aires furniture exhibition. Edgar Kaufmann, the former industrial-design curator from the Museum of Modern Art in New York, visited their stand and was so impressed with the chair that he instantly ordered two - one for his parents' weekend house (a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright’s called the Fallingwater House) and one for MoMA's permanent collection. From there, the interest in the chair grew.
In 1947 the design firm, Knoll, acquired the production rights and after mass producing the chair it became a very hot topic. Other firms began to produce it too and even though Knoll tried to prevent it they couldn't keep the production rights. You know why? Because their version was in fact a copy as well (it was a copy of the Tripolina chair from 1877).
Since then the world has seen many versions of the Butterfly Chair and it takes some research to find the version that is right for you.
When I was looking to buy a Butterfly Chair for my own home I started searching for a version that was simple and beautiful in the design. But I didn't stop there. I wanted a chair that was not only pleasant to look at, I wanted a chair that was made to last. After weeks of research I decided on The Butterfly Chair from the Swedish design company, Cuero Design, which is the same chair that's now part of the NABO shop collection.
Nowadays the Butterfly Chair is known as a Mid-Century classic. It is made of a light frame - visually and physically - and a cover; either canvas or leather.
The canvas is made from Transylvanian hemp, which is an ecological alternative to cotton. The thick Italian leather is made from a slow vegetable tanning method and thereafter crafted by skilled saddle makers with over 25 years experience working with leather.
The chair is indeed very minimal in it's design and looks very effortless without compromising on comfort and quality.
How to Style it in Your Home
The beauty with simple design is that it looks great in itself. Nothing extra is needed to make the final touch, which is the main difference between beautifully designed furniture and all the rest out there. Because of its simplicity it works well whether your home is filled with Mid-Century Modern furniture or if you have a more modern home with Boucherouite rugs and minimal art prints.
Either way, here are some ideas how to style it:
In your bedroom. There's something so cosy about having a lounge chair in your bedroom. Whether it's the place you escape to when you need some alone time or it's a comforting place to start the day, The Butterfly Chair is the perfect combination of relaxed and stylish. Avoid the trap of using it for clothes (because we're all guilty of doing that, right) and this will become your new favourite place to relax.
In your reading corner. The only thing you need is a reading light and a good book really. And a blanket. Try adding textiles in neutral colours to underline the beauty of the leather. If you have a canvas version try adding more colours.
On your terrace. When you purchase a Butterfly chair in canvas you purchase the perfect outdoors lounge chair. Whether it's in your backyard, by the pool or on your terrace the Butterfly Chair is laid-back, casual and cool. Your guests won't ever want to leave your outdoor space again.
In your living room. The leather chair is a lovely choice for a minimalist interior and provides a modern feel to a room. Its simple lines makes it sophisticated to look at and the fact that it's the most comfortable lounge chair you can think of makes it all better. When you place The Butterfly Chair amongst other things I think less in better in terms of adding cushions and blankets. Try to hold back.
How to Choose the Right Version
The canvas version is good for outside and the leather version is a good choice if you want it in your living room. The canvas version can also work in the living room but the leather version will not be a good choice for outdoors.
Once you've decided on the cover, it comes to deciding what frame you want, and most versions of the chair gives you the option to choose between a chrome and black frame.
If you want a minimalistic look you could go for an all black leather or canvas version or a white canvas cover with black frame. If you want a more timeless and classic look you should go to the leather type you like and a chrome frame.
The main thing here is to go with what feels right.
I hope you've enjoyed this blog post. Do you own a Butterfly chair yourself or dreaming of owning one? And where would you place it? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Further reading: Introducing Mette Duedahl - A Tribute to Functionality and What to Look for when Buying Vintage Furniture are some of my most popular articles. There's also an article about the Copenhagen based stationary brand NOTEM which you should give a read if you're as obsessed with stationary as I am.
Images & credits: Thanks Cuero Design for letting NABO use some of your photos of the Butterfly Chair.