Antonio Bonet, Juan Kurchan and Jorge Ferrari – BKF Chair (1938)

This chair was created by two Argentinian and one Spanish architect who had worked with Le Corbusier in Paris and who had founded that same year the Austral Collective, a group interested in the renewal of architecture, design and urban planning in the Southern Cone of South America. The name of the chair comes from the initials of the three designers, although internationally it is known as the ‘Butterfly’, a name which has been legally commercialised in the United States by a number of manufacturers. The creators forgot to take out a patent in time to detain disrespectful and indiscriminate imitation which was carried out with all types of materials. The original prototype was formed by two metallic loops with small, curved spokes of solid iron which served as a support for the leather which forms both the seat and the back of the chair. When a person sits on the leather it adapts like a hammock, which allows for different positions, from the most upright to a reclining position as well as a foetal position. It is a very simple and economical model and due to this, it was easily copied. But it has also been such a comfortable, light and versatile design that in Los Angeles alone during the fifties three thousand pieces were manufactured each week.

The popularity of the BFK has turned it into a cult design of the twentieth century. It is in the MOMA in New York, it formed part of the furniture of Wright’s Falling Water House and it was taken up by North American youth of the fifties as an almost anti-establishment element since it did not allow for a conventional posture and women could only sit in it if they were wearing trousers.

Author: Ana María Fernández García

Photo: Manufakturplus