Portraits of classics
In the spirit of the Bauhaus many designers followed until the 1940s the primacy of functionality. After a period of playful shapes and colors American and Scandinavian designers established around 1960 the Midcentury Style: Straightforward and modular furniture that reflects the spirit of enterprise and unlimited desire for experimentation.
Pioneers of ergonomics
Since the mid-1960s the Italian entrepreneurs Piero Gatti, Cesare Paolini and Franco Teodoro worked closely together; their designs were exhibited in numerous retrospectives. The Sacco, first introduced to the public in 1968, is considered one of their most renowned works.
During the late 1960s, ergonomics was the all-important concept. Interior designers went passionately in search of perfect flexibility of their creations, including Gatti, Paolini and Teodoro. Their goal was to create an unconventional yet accessible seater that – ideally – would remind its owner of snow. As Gatti put it: "You throw yourself into it and you leave a legacy."
The number of flexible and adaptable furniture was limited in those years. There were already waterbeds available, but only at prohibitively high prices. The French group Utopie was experimenting with inflatable rubber structures, by means of which furniture could be moved easily. However, the aesthetics of these models did not correspond to the ideas of Gatti and his team. In 1967, Italy's design pioneer Zanotta introduced the air-based chair Blow. Design, materials and manufacturing processes were revolutionary; however, the chair was was quite uncomfortable due to its hard surface. Therefore, the three designers chose foam as basic material and experimented with blocks of polyurethane. As procurement and processing proved to be complex and costly, Gatti, Paolini and Teodoro focused on fillings in the form of balls; initially they even used ping-pong balls. Ultimately, Gatti directed his research into the construction industry, where they had been using foam beads for isolation and insulation.
A decisive stimulus from the United States
After completing a first prototype the three designers decided to not proceed with their work - because of their scepticism over the commercial success of such a “bean bag”. However, after an American design magazine asked in 1967 for pictures of their latest works, the team sent in a photo of the product that they called Sacco. A short time later, the Italian representative of Macy's, the mighty New York-based department store chain, approached Gatti: “Product scouts at the headquarters had the Sacco discovered. Now we would be interested in about 10,000 copies." Gatti said that the prototype must be modified further and start of production was not clear yet. Consequently, information on pricing and delivery times was at this stage not yet available.
Undoubtedly, Macy’s offer greatly facilitated the search for eligible production partners. The team quickly opted for Zanotta, the company that had introduced one of the few comparable products to the market shortly before. Zanotta agreed to produce three prototypes and included them in their appearance at the Paris Furniture Fair in 1968. The rest is history. The Sacco has been awarded many times and celebrated in 2018 its 50th anniversary. In honor, Zanotta launched a limited edition of 50 exclusive designs - with beautiful names like Bellissima and Il Casanova.
A style icon turns 80
Arts, culture, and commerce: For more than eight decades has the Hardoy Butterfly Chair been inspiring painters, filmmakers and the creative industries - and provides any room with the charm of an Estancia.
Designed by the architects Bonet, Kurchan and Ferrari-Hardoy for a Buenos Aires-based planning office in 1938 (hence known as BKF in the Americas), the Hardoy Butterfly Chair was considered a design classic already by the late 1950s. Its structure, consisting of four intersection points, was based on the Tripolina Chair - an armchair designed in the 19th century by the British entrepreneur Joseph Beverly Fenby. The chair combined leather and wood with metal and was intended to promote the fusion of handcrafts and industrial production.
5 million replicas in one decade
The Hardoy Butterfly Chair was introduced to the public during the third edition of a local furniture show (Salon de Artistas Decoradores) in 1940. Following an impressive first appearance, the chair was added to the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (New York) and became rapidly popular among artists, actors and architects. Shortly thereafter, Artek-Pascoe acquired license rights for production and marketing in the U.S. and transferred them to Knoll Associates in 1948. The chair’s commercial success led to a surge in unauthorized replicas, alone in the 1940s over 5 million "Butterfly Chairs" have been produced. After numerous legal battles, Knoll ceased series production in 1951. Following that, the Hardoy Butterfly Chair’s unique design has been periodically reprinted by various manufacturers - since the beginning of 2012 through our company.
The modern view
Jorge Ferrari-Hardoy is one of the most important architects of Argentina. Besides urban planning and housing, he devoted himself from the mid-1930s to the design of contemporary furniture. The Butterfly Chair is considered his most famous piece.
Ferrari-Hardoy studied until 1937 at the renowned Escuela de Arquitectura in Buenos Aires. He then went to Europe and spent a few months in Paris, together with his college friend Juan Kurchan. Inspired by Le Corbusier who - as a representative of the Congres Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne (CIAM) - had a particular interest in Latin America, Ferrari-Hardoy worked closely with him on the elaboration of a first urban master plan for Buenos Aires. Besides his work in the country’s capital, Ferrari-Hardoy was involved in the regulatory plans of Mendoza and San Nicolás; from 1944 he oversaw the reconstruction of the city of San Juan. From 1947 to 1951 he worked with Jorge Vivanco, the Argentine delegate of CIAM. In addition, Ferrari-Hardoy was lecturer at the Escuela Industrial in La Plata, the Escuela de Arquitectura y Urbanismo de la Universidad del Litoral and at the University of Buenos Aires.
Jorge Ferrari-Hardoy belongs to the generation of Argentinean architects who advocated the ideas of modernism. As a founding member of the planning office Austral he represented together with Juan Kurchan and the Catalan architect Antoni Bonet the works of the Committees of CIAM and CIRPAC (Comité International pour la Résolution of Problèmes de l'Architecture Contemporaine) in Argentina.
A chair in the spirit of Le Corbusier
Austral developed pioneering projects, discussed the relevant aspects of contemporary architecture, and participated in exhibitions, competitions and conferences. Moreover, the group members were actively seeking international exposure; they exchanged ideas with architects from other countries and published the magazine Nosotros ("Us"). In addition, Austral organized cultural events and included painters, sculptors, musicians, photographers, doctors, sociologists and educators in their work.
Starting in 1937 the office had been charged with the planning works for a university town on the site of the old port of Buenos Aires, residential buildings in the southern part of the city as well as the construction of hospitals, sports facilities and schools along the central avenue Corrientes. At all their works, Ferrari-Hardoy promoted the use of composable industrial elements and employed curved glass panels and sun visors, as evidenced by the Ateliers (1938) at the corner Suipacha and Paraguay. Together with Juan Kurchan he developed from 1941 to 1944 a residential complex in the district of Belgrano. The building became quickly popular because of its implanted tree inside the patio. Together with Bonet and Kurchan, Jorge Ferrari-Hardoy designed the Butterfly Chair in 1938 (hence known as BKF in the Americas). With its extraordinary shape and flexible handling the Butterfly became quickly popular and was already twenty years later considered a true design icon.
An early masterpiece
With its sculptural design, light weight and exceptional seating comfort the Tripolina is considered the precursor of the Hardoy Butterfly Chair. For the first time presented to the public in 1904 at an exhibition in Saint Louis, the Tripolina Chair became quickly popular among artists, adventurers, and the military.
The chair and an associated camp stool were designed in 1855 by the British industrialist Joseph Beverly Fenby and patented in 1877 in England (1881 in the United States, respectively). The J. B. Fenby Co. first manufactured the design but did not commercialize the chair and went bankrupt by late 1879. After the Tripolina’s appearance at the Saint Louis trade show in 1904, the design was licensed to French and Italian manufacturers and to Gold Medal Inc. in Wisconsin, USA, a company that produced military, camping and resort furniture in the early 20th century. Among others, it was sold at retail by famed outfitting company Abercrombie and Fitch of New York. The Fenby Chair became widely known in Europe as an officer’s chair but also as a safari or beach chair. Popular among the U.S and the British forces, the Fenby Chair was also used by the Italian army in the 1930′s during its campaigns in Lybia where the chair became known as the Tripolina Chair.
Flexible handling, unprecedented comfort, iconic design
The original frames were made of wood and metal with a canvas or leather seat sling. They folded quickly and stored compactly. In addition to its light weight, comfort and portability it was regarded as an early example of design excellence. Notable users of the Tripolina include Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas A. Edison, the renowned wildlife biologist Aldo Leopold, and many officers, safari hunters, explorers, and adventurers worldwide.
WEINBAUMS has refined the original design of the Fenby Tripolina Chair and uses for its covering only vegetable tanned leather from Catalonian producers. The frame is manufactured from wood of the Patagonian Cherry; it is foldable and weather resistant.