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Photo Courtesy of Cuero Design

Why You Need a Butterfly Chair

There is freedom and beauty in these simple chairs.

To understand the Butterfly chair, you must first acquaint yourself with the La Tripolina chair. In the late 19th century, an Englishman, Joseph Fenby, invented a wooden and Italian leather folding chair that was used for camping. Its original name in the 1880s was the Paragon chair and rechristened the Tripolina when before WWII it was manufactured in Tripoli, Libya. The humble chairs predated the folding aluminum and nylon strip chairs that soon eclipsed them as a camping or beach chair. However modest the Tripolina chair was, everyone enjoyed it, including Presidents and famous inventors such as Warren Harding, Henry Ford, and Thomas Edison. 

Specifically, the BKF Chair (the initials of the architects who created it), or Hardoy chair, was developed as a component of an apartment building the group designed in the capital city. The chair helped to set the building’s aesthetic mood they wished to convey, and existing furniture on the market didn’t suffice. Unlike the Tripolina, the BKF chair was made from a stationary metal frame with a large leather seat slung from the highest points and held in place by the lowest. The seat is affixed over four rounded steel rods with leather flaps that sip over the frame. While this chair was painted black with a fixed frame and leather seat, over time, variations evolved.

Post-war, these chairs were seen everywhere. There was a nagging issue that these chairs were  often uncomfortable. The reason may have been how the overall height of people increased in the 20th century. A Swedish entrepreneur named Lars Kjerstadius sought to rectify this. His improvements included making the chair 30 percent larger and filling out the seat to cover a larger area, supporting the body more. Kjerstadius called his version the Mariposa, aka butterfly in Spanish, dubbing his company Cuero Design which Kjerstadius’s son and daughter-in-law now run.

Butterfly chairs can easily fit any decor, whether that be traditional, modern, or bohemian. With seat covers in a choice of leather, canvas, suede, or even shearling fur, chairs are customized to any color or decor detail. As they make a great spot to read in, placing near a lamp or window to allow for light is recommended. For example, if placing just one Butterfly chair, an open corner best shows its impressive design. Conversely, a set of Butterfly chairs can rest side-by-side and face a sofa with a coffee table placed in between to create a relaxing conversation area. 

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