Leather butterfly chair: 80 years and still a classic of modern design

80 anniversary edition Big BKF butterfly chair

Leather butterfly chairBig BKF hot stamping

Our anniversary edition “80 years“ - Polo light brown leather - 

In December of 1938 the BKF was born from ideas that began in Paris, a chair consisting of an iron frame of 12 mm with a leather hanging. The leather was commissioned by a saddler, Rossi Caruso from Buenos Aires, that manufactured the saddles for polo players of the time. The BKF chair was on display at Harrods and was presented in the First Hall of Decorative Artists of Buenos Aires in 1943, organized by the National Ministry of Culture, and won First Prize. 

The three architects spent some years studying under the Master Le Corbusier, absorbing the very best elements of his work. On their return to Argentina, the three young hopefuls decided to continue down the road the Master had shown them. They founded Grupo Austral, a design collective poised to investigate the new horizons of Argentinian architecture and urbanism (so much so that Ferrari-Hardoy would go on to work on the new urban plan of Buenos Aires with Le Corbusier himself). In this the trio were blessed with formidable intuition, redesigning a classic military piece of furniture: the “Tripolina”. A light and collapsible armchair, the chair had a wooden frame and metal joints which formed the base for a canvas or leather cover. It is thought to have been designed by Joseph B. Fenby in 1881 for the British Army, who then sold the patent in Italy and the United States. The chair was presented for the first time at the International Fair of Saint Louis in 1904 by the firm Gold Medal in Wisconsin. The Tripolina is simple and practical, conceived for military purposes and their sudden changes of location and transportation. In fact, thanks to the canvas, the design combines traditionally separate parts such as the seat and the backrest into a single element, and the chair can be folded and easily stored in a practical case with a shoulder strap.

Our Tripolina wooden chairTripolina hinges

 

A special tribute to the BKF BUTTERFLY CHAIR: Our anniversary edition for the legendary chair's 80th birthday. This special edition made of classy light brown vintage saddle leather is not only a tribute to the classic's still ongoing modern design, but also celebrates the chair’s elaborate and open-edge finish in particular: This way the premium light brown saddle leather with a thickness of up to six millimeters unfolds its full beauty and durability – like the original. The anniversary edition of the Hardoy is also characterized by additional edge reinforcement made of saddle leather and the insertion of a welt. The saddle leather, specifically produced for the anniversary edition, is characterized by its individual surface texture with visible neck folds. Over time a typical patina emerges which causes a very individual grip. A matching footrest complete the anniversary by Big BKF Buenos Aires.

The number of names by which it is known BKF, the Argentina, the African, the Hardoy Chair or, more commonly, the Butterfly, are second only to the countless attempts to imitate it. The Chair’s design preceded by almost thirty years the radical research into non-conventional and vernacular chairs, which at the same time embodied some of the greatest classics of the modernist movement. The Butterfly invented a new way of sitting, freeing its users from social formalisms and enabling them to engage in a new form of conviviality that would later form the basis for the contemporary furniture developed from the 1950s onwards, a style championed by American design.

Today, the Butterfly is still recognised as a classic of modernity that enjoys universal success. It is a symbol of lightness and liberty yet offers an elegance that succeeds in being informal and refined at the same time.

 


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