Design classic chair BKF – Butterfly Chair History and design

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Design classics are celebrating a revival on the furniture market and are considered fashionable, which is actually the opposite of that. Timeless pieces of furniture are called modern and the reason for this is basically due to the style cult or the striving to be stylish. Design classics are basically furniture made in large numbers that have not lost their validity over the years. They are simple, functional and durable, so they fit into any living environment. For one Design classic chair is characteristic of a concise shape, robust materials, reduced colors and uncompromising quality. We introduce the butterfly chair.

Design classic chair BKF – predecessor ‘Tripolina’

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Design classic chairs should be simple, but also functional. Butterfly Chair completely fulfills these requirements and expands them in a practical way – it is foldable. Still known as the BKF Chair or Bat Chair, it sticks to the practical from the start. Its predecessor, only presented in the 1880s, was a camping chair with a frame made of wood and steel designed for military camps. Stable and easy to dismantle and assemble, James B. Fendy made a breakthrough with his ‘Tripola’ or ‘Tripolina’ chair.

Design classic chair – BKF named after the first letters of the designer’s surname

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In 1938 a new design was made, which is already considered to be the ‘birth’ of the Butterfly chair. The Argentine architecture firm Austral Group, which worked with Le Corbusier, among others, reinterpreted the camping chair and added it to the furnishing of an apartment building in Buenos Aires. The chair was named BKF after the first letter of the designers surname – Antonio B.onet, Juan Kurchan and Jorge F.errari Hardy, called. After the chair was presented in Buenos Aires at the third ‘Salon de Artistas Decoradoresinterior’ design exhibition, it is recognized by MoMA. Some pieces are also included in the decor of Frank Loyd Wright’s famous ‘Fallingwater’ house.

Design classic chair BKF in the ‘Fallingwater’ house of Frank Loyd Wright


How a camping chair becomes a true design classic depends on more than pure luck. It is not only functionally stable, its design appeals to people from different walks of life. Therefore, a design becomes very popular and is often copied in this chain of thought. Knoll received the license for the design from the BKF chair in 1947, but the counterfeiting was not reduced and production was forced to cease.

Design classic chair BKF as a piece of furniture for the masses


After its original production, at that time by Knoll, the chair was issued several times over and over again, of course with deteriorated qualitative properties. The aluminum frame and fabric upholstery do not guarantee a comfortable seat, nor do they correspond to the reservations made by the designers, Bonet, Kurchan and Ferrari-Hardoy, which have since been forgotten. what distinguishes the original piece from the fake:

  • Frame – made of iron, coated with epoxy paint or chrome-plated, firmly fixed with four welds
  •  Seat made from four parts of natural leather, no thinner than 1.6 mm, reinforced from the rear (the special cut results in a cavity that ensures seating comfort)
  • Stability and balance of the chair

Design classics and the fakes


It is not for nothing that the Butterfly chair received the design classic award. He has earned and proven this over time and has remained true to its practical use. It was used by the military as the ‘Tripolina’ camping chair because it is easy to transport. When Austral Group designed BKF, he drew the attention of Le Corbusier, who is well known for minimalist and in every sense sustainable design, and therefore given a push. Although of significantly poor quality, copies could be bought from $ 25, which made them appear quickly at hippie festivals in the 60s-70s. The reason for this is not because of the award it won, but because of the functional design that is useful.

Design classic chair BKF Revival and Re-Editions


57 years after Knoll ceased production, MoMA has issued 75 new special models, re-editions, for its 75th anniversary. These got an update with a powder-coated black stainless steel frame and cover made of cowhide. The Butterfly Chair has been experiencing its revival since 2010 when the Argentinian designer Bárbara Giménez Weinbaum started production. She herself designed a BKF chair with two seats and an analogical design. In 2013 he was awarded a Red Dot by MoMa, with whom he already shares a common story.

Design classic chair BKF in the modern home


BKF chair offers comfortable, informal seating and, thanks to its casual, unobtrusive appearance, can really be used in any area, suitable for any living environment. As typical mid-century furniture, it is often preferred by young people due to its uncomplicated appearance. Recently, there are also several variants for the design as well as the frame and the seat fabric. You can choose between covers made of sailcloth or leather in natural colors. A frame made of steel is optionally available in black or white. Thanks to the use of already modern, more robust materials, it can be set up inside as well as outside.

Design classic chair BKF today – visually appealing and sustainable


The chair has not only changed visually over time, but also from a purely technical point of view. Its original dimensions, in the production of Knoll, do not correspond to the scale of contemporary people, so it has grown by a few centimeters. It has recently been optimized to meet the high demands of the modern user. So it’s not surprising that he keeps popping up in homes and offices for a while.

Design classic chair BKF for outdoor use


The current version of the BKF chair can also be used outdoors without any problems. Optionally, there are also removable, washable in-outdoor suitable upholstery covers and are available in several cheerful colors. The material is breathable and mold-resistant, which promises long-lasting use. The frame can be easily folded and stored in a space-saving manner when the chair is not in use. It is also designed, depending on its use, painted for inside and powder-coated for outside.

Design classic chair BKF with leather cover and powder-coated stainless steel frame 

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Cushions suitable for indoor use are made of color-fast leather and suede (cogniac color) or in other colors on request. Another variant would be a cover made of natural-colored or black sailcloth. The chair is the perfect piece of furniture that creates a stylish connection between several living styles in the room.

Typically midcentury – design classic chair BKF 

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How multifaceted this design classic chair actually is and interesting design ideas with it can be found in the photo series.

Indian summer style with design classic chair BKF made of leather

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Design classic chair BKF can be used in any area

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Design classic chair BKF in an eclectic living style

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