Entries in chair (3)
We first met designer and woodworker Jason Lewis in 2007 at the Guerrilla Truck Show in Chicago. Coinciding with Neocon, the show has become an annual event where local designers, artists and craftspeople exhibit their work within a small moving truck—which purposely line up with the elevated sidewalks of the Fulton Market district.
Jason’s skills as a designer and craftsman were evident in the furniture pieces he showed—including the original wood version of the fleet chair which has been in his portfolio since about 2001. At the time we were without a qualified source to mass produce the chair in the quantities we needed, so while we weren’t able to work with Jason immediately, we knew a good thing when we saw it so we kept it in mind and kept his business card handy.
In 2009, when the opportunity presented itself to mass produce the wood version, we revisited Jason’s workshop—blocks from our new offices—to see which of his designs would be best to pursue. Soon after the idea sparked to reconsider all metal fleet chairs.
Originally inspired by his idea to mirror the elegantly curved back within the seat, the design was easy to envision in metal—including second and third versions in yellow and orange powder-coated metal.
And while the wood version is hand-crafted with mortise and tenon joinery, production of the metal version—as shown below—requires an almost equal amount of hands-on time and level of expertise.
Originally created in 1938 for an apartment building in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the designers of both named the BKF chair after themselves—Antonio Bonet, Juan Kurchan and Jorge Ferrari Hardoy.
In 1940, after seeing the chair on exhibit at the Salon de Artistas Decoradores, a sample was requested by MoMA and remains in the permanent Collection.
More commonly referred to as the butterfly chair, it was inspired by a folding campaign-style chair—the Tripolina. Many versions have been produced over the years—in both fixed and portable styles—and the design has gained worldwide popularity for its ease of assembly and transport, its light weight, and the variety of materials that can be used for production.
Whipstitched by hand, the natural leather sling of the 1938 butterfly chair covers a metal frame—true to the original.