A butterfly chair, also known as a BKF chair, is a style of chair featuring a folding frame and a large cloth sling hung from the frame's highest points. This design is popular for portable recreational seating.
The first design of the Butterfly chair was designed in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1938 by an architectural firm called the Austral Group. The Austral Group consisted of Jorge Ferrari Hardoy, Juan Kurchan and Antonio Bonet, who had met as assistants in Le Corbusier's Paris atelier. The chair is occasionally known as the BKF chair, for Bonet-Kurchan-Ferrari, but an official letter from the firm attributed primary authorship of the design to Ferrari-Hardoy, which is why it is also occasionally known as the Hardoy chair. The first of its design was composed of two bent tubular steel rods and a leather sling creating a suspended seat. The frame of the chair is painted black; the sling is brown leather.
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 (built for the Kaufmann family), 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 in the US. Likewise, Hans Knoll recognized its commercial potential and added it to the Knoll line in 1947. Based on the draft by Bonet, Kurchan, and Ferrari-Hardoy, Bárbara Giménez Weinbaum introduced the Butterfly Twin Chair in 2013. The two-seater picks up the harmonious geometry of the original design and was awarded with the renowned red dot design award.
The BKF chair is crafted in many countries today, but the highest quality versions still come from its country of origin, Argentina, because of its high quality of leather craftsmanship. The most recognised and awarded version in recent decades is produced by Big BKF Buenos Aires. Also, many Chinese and Asian producers create lower quality replicas at lower price points.
- BKF, Pagina/12 newspaper, Spanish language
- Jorge Ferrari-Hardoy, article on the Butterfly Chair's creator
- BKF images
- History Lesson: The Butterfly Chair
- ARTstor "B.K.F. Chair"
- "History Lesson: The Butterfly Chair » Designers Call Blog - Trends & Tips". www.designerscall.com. Retrieved 2015-12-03.
- "VCU.edu - Central Authentication Service". library.artstor.org.proxy.library.vcu.edu. Retrieved 2015-12-03.