The Original Butterfly Chair

Is This The Original Butterfly Chair?

What nobody told you about the classical masterpiece

The Butterfly Chair is one of the most iconic designs in the world.

Its harmonious round edges and spacious nature allows the design to blend into any style of interior decoration. 

The design is an absolute must in the home of anyone who appreciates classical items of any kind. If you are only going to have one piece of classical furniture, it should be a Butterfly Chair. 


One of the earliest versions of the butterfly chair. Here’s a picture of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison during one of their famous camping trips. In this photo from 1921, they have invited the US president at the time, Warren Harding, as well as the well known entrepreneur Harvey Firestone.

The Model Was An Inspiration From La Tripolina.

The first modern butterfly chair was designed in 1938 in Buenos Aires by three architects named Bonet, Kurchan and Ferrari (BKF).

They were inspired by a model from the late 19th century called “La Tripolina”. Tripolina was a foldable chair made of wood and Italian leather. It was originally created by English inventor Joseph Fenby and has also been called the Fenby Chair.

You can read more about Tripolina in The New York Times.

Tipolina outlines
La Tripolina (1881)

Only three armchairs were made

The three architects made three armchairs in total. No more, no less. One of them is in the Museum of Modern Art in New York today. The second is at the Frank Lloyd Wright house Fallingwater.

Fallingwater, USA

Nobody seems to know where the third one is. If you know, please let us know in the comment section below.

fallingwater original BKF_sketch
BKF At Fallingwater, Pennsylvania

The armchair was considered a copy of Tripolina

A company bought the rights to produce the armchair almost ten years later. It was mass produced and quickly became famous. The demand for the BKF went through the roof and many companies began to produce “copies”.

The company tried to defend their right to be the only producers of the BKF. They failed to defend this right though, since the courts decided that the “original piece” itself was actually a copy of the older model Tripolina.

Court ruling

Many companies started to produce Butterfly Chairs

It has been decorating homes around the world ever since.

But it had one final issue that has always bothered its users.

The chair was quite uncomfortable to sit in.

One reason for this could be that people were shorter in 1938 when the chair was originally designed. As people grew taller during the 20th century, the butterfly chair needed to be adapted as well.

Fortunately, this was changed by a Swedish entrepreneur named Lars Kjerstadius.

Like millions of people, he too found the butterfly chair to be uncomfortable to sit in.

Once again, the butterfly chair was going to be modified.

Lars improved it by making it 30% larger than the original design. He also made a few other adjustments to the radius of the cover in order to get a more comfortable seating position.

He named his version the Mariposa chair, meaning “butterfly” in Spanish.

The name of his company was Cuero Design which means “leather design” in Spanish.


Mariposa by Cuero Design to the left and a normal butterfly chair to the right.


The Swedish Mariposa chair by Cuero Design quickly became a popular choice among celebrities and wealthy Scandinavian families. It didn’t take long before luxury furniture shops around the globe were selling the model together with other design classics such as the Eames Lounge Chair and the classical Egg Chair by Arne Jacobsen.

Now, the chairs made by Cuero Design are decorating thousands of homes. It’s also used by famous hotels such as the Icehotel in Northern Sweden and the Arctic Treehouse hotel in Finland.

In this picture, the Mariposa chairs by Cuero are being used to decorate a luxury bungalow in Greenland.

Cuero Design is now run by Lars’ son and daughter in law. 

The Mariposa chairs by Cuero Design are made in various types of materials and colours, including sheepskin, leather and canvas. 


The frames are made in Sweden with solid Swedish steel.

All the models and versions can be discovered in the website of Cuero Design.


At the Cuero Design website,
 you will find the perfect butterfly chair, no matter which decoration style you have.

The wide selection of materials and colours offered by Cuero, means there is something for everyone.

There is no original butterfly chair

So is this an original butterfly chair? Well, yes and no.

The first three pieces were made in Argentina, a country that was very far away from Europe and USA. Had it been designed in Europe or in the United States, it is not impossible that it wouldn’t have even been approved as an authentic model in the first place.

We think it’s good that it was designed in Argentina, since it permitted the architects to make an improvement upon Tripolina. Thanks to them, there is a free market for manufacturers to create the best of what is considered by many to be most successful design of the 20th century. It gives you the possibility to find great versions of this classic in terms of comfort, style and quality.

In a way, you can say that all of them are authentic in their own way.

It’s all about comfort and quality today

The world has enjoyed more than 80 years of open rights to manufacture the classical masterpiece. Every producer makes it slightly different and there is really no “original” BKF today. It’s all about quality and comfort in the market.

If you want to determine if a BKF is good, you should look for quality and comfort, rather than originality. You want to be able to spend hours in your butterfly chair for many years.

This is the Swedish Butterfly Chair

Swedish BKF With Child
Photo By Luumutar

We pride ourselves with the fact that we produce a very comfortable, high quality BKF. It is a slight redesign of the version created by the first architects, with special consideration for comfort. The redesign was made by Lars Kjerstadius in Sweden over 20 years ago and we therefore call it the Swedish Butterfly Chair.

Lars is very passionate about his work. He is constantly thinking about how to make the best BKF in the world. Even today the product is better than the one that was produced last year in our facilities.

We guarantee that when you buy our armchair you will be very happy with it for many, many years.

Click on the button below to browse all the different models of the Mariposa Butterfly Chair that is made by Cuero Design.

Find Your Butterfly Chair

Comments

  • I have a butterfly chair frame that I found on the side of the road 15yrs ago. I have kept it in hopes of finding a cover one day. It’s not a new foldable version… It’s welded and has the original (cracking) rubber feet. After reading your article… I realize it’s not an original… But is probably very old. Also, it’s wide but a bit smaller than the largest versions. Circa50 is a maker of covers and they show 3 size options. I think mine is a b size. Would love opinion on where to get a new cover made.

    • Hi Chad,

      You can read 5 things you need to know before you buy a butterfly chair cover here.

      As the article mentions, I think it will be difficult to find a matching cover unless you go to a saddle maker or an upholsterer to have it custom made according to the size of your frame. If you are not looking for a perfectly matching cover, and are ok with risking it hanging loosely and perhaps not being so strong either, you can purchase a cover from any manufacturer of butterfly chairs.

      My recommendation is however that you purchase a new chair instead. As you said, your chair is not an original and buying a new frame is really not expensive.

      Good luck Chad!

  • Most people do not know how to sit in a butterfly chair comfortably. Yoo sit with your back leaning on one of the high curbs and your legs straddled over one of the shorter curves sort of sideways in your position that way you much more comfortable.

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Is This The Original Butterfly Chair?

by Cuero Design time to read: 5 min
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