Ercol's Butterfly is Another Classic Chair

chair ercol photo


TreeHugger has featured a series of classic chairs whose design is so simple and inspiring that they are timeless. There is the Hille stacking chair designed by Robin Day, the Monobloc (not quite inspiring, but certainly ubiquitous) and now the Butterfly made by Ercol.

Ercol is another old British furniture company founded in 1920 by Lucian Ercolani an italian who went to Furniture College here and then set up his own furniture factory, Ercol.

butter fly photo

Photo: the Independent

Located in High Wycombe, the traditional home of British furniture-making, he began making low-cost furniture that was simple and honest. He perfected the process of steam-bending and by 1956 he created the Butterfly chair of elm.

The Butterfly chair was not his bestselling chair but has become the most iconic. With its clean lines and spare design, it is almost Scandinavian, rather than Italian.

His grandson, says: "It was a revolutionary design at the time. It had the classic Windsor base but the seat was in bent ply and that curve was new. It's very comfortable, too, which is why it has endured. Lucian was always fiddling with the designs and the boardroom is full of prototypes that didn't quite work or didn't last very long."

Despite its status as a modern design classic, the Butterfly never sold in huge amounts and was out of production by the 1980s.

Then in 2000, a store owner asked if Ercol would make a few Butterflies for her shops. To Ercol's surprise, they sold and the store kept asking for more. So much so that this year, the Butterfly was relaunched in a series of colours of the rainbow as well as the classic version in original elm or beech.

nest tables photo

Photo: ercol

Last year was Ercol's 90th birthday, so they relaunched two of their original designs, including these good looking nesting tables, first made in 1956.

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