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Butterfly Chair (BKF) Product Analysis

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The Butterfly Chair (BKF) is my product of focus for it’s relevance to society as a source of inspiration and self-expression.

DTU Lectuer Testamonial
"Thank you for a well executed product analysis regarding the BFK. I read it with great interest - and as a non owner and infrequent user also learned a great deal about the almost chaotic situation regarding intellectual property right, a big number of variations.

I like your illustration on Context (p 16)


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Butterfly Chair (BKF) Product Analysis

  1. 1. THE BUTTERFLY CHAIR (BKF) 41078 Industrial Design II
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  4. 4. Introduction •  Purpose –  This product analysis (PA) was conducted in connection to the civil engineering master’s course Industrial Design II, at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). •  Subject –  The Butterfly Chair (BKF) is the product of focus for it’s relevance to 
 society as a source of inspiration and self-expression. •  Method 4 –  Susann Vihma’s Design Semiotic is the core approach of 
 this analysis. The approach can be represented in five 
 dimensions, similarly this presentation aims to provide 
 product context within those dimensions (syntax, aesthetics, pragmatics, materials, and semantics). As a result this presentation will relay not only what and why a product is but the historical physical evolution as well as the expressive, significance of its communicative dimensions.
  5. 5. Origins The BKF chair was famously designed by three iconic architects Juan Kurchan, and Jorge Ferrari Hardoy (Argentinian) and Antonio Bonet (Catalonian). Launching Austral Group in 1937, three years before the BKF was first showcased at the Salon de Artistas in 1940. Following major success, the simplicity of form and function and ailing to patent the chair, the design was replicated millions of times to this day. The chair was glorified through the purchased by MoMA (1940) and soon after licensed to Artek (1941) then to Knoll (1947-1951). Local and international recognition was ushered by the cultural growth period in which it was created. The 1920s and 1930s in Argentina was the pivotal time for wealth, expansion, and culture. The chair flowered along side rising stars of the film, dance (tango), and music. Knoll ceased production in 1951 as a result of WW2 causing a steel shortage and the court determining that the “Harody’s Chair” was too similar to earlier precedents to claim copyright protection. Chicago Tribune (1999), “Knoll’s loss, is of course, the world’s gain”. in the 1950 to 1960 the chair was picked up by marketers as a symbol of modern living, extreme informality. Airborne is the only official company still producing the chairs, originally partnered with Juan Kurchan. The market is extremely diverse with manufactures focusing on target markets, such as Weinbaum focus on the luxury segment.
  6. 6. Syntax Construction
 Appreciated by connoisseurs, hipsters and students alike the the chair design the chair is not only beautiful but it is significantly cheap to produce. In 1948 the chair was made using an industrial produced frame during a time when there was a demand for cheap modern furniture after the war. This technique was cheaper then the hand made wooden alternatives. Costs were reduced further by replacing the original painted wrought-iron frame with stainless steal or epoxy- lacquered steel. Covers were produced in cheaper fabrics. Page 8 showcases the construction of the Roorkhee and Tripolina in comparison to the BKF. 6 Structure The BKF was an extension of two earlier designs, the Roorkhee (1890s) and Tripolina (1881). The BKF chair remains typically similarly modular due to it’s interchangeable covers and foldable frame. However, the structure is starkly simpler. Over time the core driver of structural change is the changing heights and weights of humans. In the 1930’s industrialized countries Men reached an average height of 168 cm and Women just 156 cm. The design of BKF was designed on these figures. Weinbaum a contemporary manufacture introduced a new version of the chair titled the GRAND COMFORT which is up to 30cm longer in height.
  7. 7. 7 Tripolina BKF Roorkhee (1890s) Tripolina (1881) BKF (1938) Structural Evolution
  8. 8. Aesthetics Colouring 
 Majority of the chairs current retails offer black and tan leather covers, aswell as a variety of cotton covers following colour and print trends. Weinbaum leather covers are coloured using vegetable oil. Unlike Weinbaum, BigBKF focus on the traditional aesthetic leaving natural range marks, scars and wrinkles to confirm the authenticity of the leather. In contrast the. Historically there was only one colour frame available, as technology has progressed it is possible to powder coat the frame choosing from more than 200 colours in the RAL spectrum. Style The butterfly chair style has maintained a modernism style, effortlessly simple utilizing a mixture of traditional and modern materials. “A rejection of good posture and formal clothing” NewYorkTimes. The following page depicts the original mass produced chair in comparison to a tailored 21 Century version. Known deviation's from this smooth aesthetic is most obvious represented through the use of uncommon materials such as a metal cover which removes the intended mood and enlighten style of the chair. 8
  9. 9. 9 1938 Manufacturer: Artek-Pascoe, New York Size: 93 x 71.5 x 75 cm Frame: Painted wrought-iron 2015 Manufacturer: Weinbaum, Germany Size: 100 X 118 X 86 cm Frame: Brushed stainless steel
  10. 10. Aesthetics 10 Feeling I feel relaxed, edgy and inspired. Some feel swallowed whilst other love the chair's unique grace the feeling of being hugged and reassured. Materials The most common cover materials include are leather, cotton and canvas. The frame materials include tubular iron frame, stainless steel, or chrome. Form The BKF is more commonly known as the butterfly chair for is form and symmetry. The base is typically made with four symmetric base loops. The original chair had just three. The chair now comes with a variety of additional accessories and forms such as a bolster, ottoman, or side table and children's or twin sizes. Colouring Colourful, varied and timeless. Can be DIY or tailor ordered to suit individual needs. First Impression Durable, comfortable, an intellectuals best friend.
  11. 11. Pragmatics 11 Sizes Twin, children's, original, and large size. Direct Function Sitting, sleeping, and resting. Indirect Functions Studio prop, decoration, symbol of taste, personal statement, conversing tool, gathering place, smoking chair, sun-baking, napping, eating, reading, nursing, pampering, star gazing and playing music. Modes As the materials evolved outdoor durability was enhanced, turning the chair into a sort after outdoor furniture alternative. Other modes include office, study, public, art, and living room.
  12. 12. Pragmatics 12 Indirect Functions 12
  13. 13. Materials 13 Materials Every year new material are being produced and applied to the BKF by companies like Airborne, pushing the boundaries with materials such as metal mesh and feathers. The most common cover materials include are leather, cotton and canvas. Livonworld.it believe the adaptability to any interior is the reason for the chairs success. CB2 manufacture the frame with tubular iron, finished off with a a light antiqued zinc and water- based clear matte powder coat. The Weinbaum “Original” version has four intersection brushed welded frame of stainless steel. Less common is the chrome finish by BigBKF whilst Modish offers an oxidized steel frame. The following page depicts two examples of common cover and frame material types. Through the form of the cover and the evolution of material varieties the product reassures the lounger that the chair will remain relevant. This perception can only be sustained when then buyer purchases from a quality supplier, focused on durability and change. Long term this maintains the product value, short term, each time you change the material it’s a new experience.
  14. 14. 1414 Cover Material: Cotton Manufacture: Airborne, France Frame Frame: Brushed stainless steel Manufacturer: Weinbaum, Germany
  15. 15. Semantics The informality and openness of design provides the user with pragmatic freedom. Advertising has glorified the weird and the further the user takes the chair the more historically aligned we are. The 60’s proliferated the chairs uses through advertising as seen on page 10. Many of these uses certainly emphasize the products emotional abilities, evident in the popularity among teenagers and students. As all users of the chair identified with the informal way of sitting, it helps capture the imagination of modernism and change. Those who used the chair want a new way to enjoy the activities in their daily life. The chair identifies with this movement, it is socially sensitive, evoking a new way to sitting and engaging. Young families bought the chairs in droves and yet movie star collected the originals. Overall the product is collectable and prestigious at the same time accessible and fun, it depends on the environment the end user determines. The chair may be inspired by the Tripolina, Harrods catalogue (1895) “the most potable on the market” however the BKF rightfully communicates homeliness, no need for portability. Kaufmann described the BKF as functional, handsome, and relatively inexpensive. In the end the BKF offers a different value proposition which changed the customer demographic from military to artists and mass market appeal which made it still popular today. 15
  16. 16. Context 16 Historicisme • Roorkhee • Tripolina • Joseph B. Fenby • WWII • Campaign Furniture Modernism • BFK • Austral Group • Edgar Kaufmann • Argentina’s economic reconstruction • Argentina’s Mass Democracy • American Consumerism • Artek-Pascoe • Knoll Assoicates • Butterfly by Pierre Paulin (1954) Today • Butterfly Chair (BFK) • Airborne • Technology Advances • Globalization • Post-Modernism • Supply Chain Management • DIY • Weinbaum • CB2 • BigBFK Legend: Objects Stakeholders Environment Competitors
  17. 17. Final Word Through this PA the BKF has considered the design choices of Austral group and the endless authorized and unauthorized replicas that have influenced and been influenced by society since conception in 1938. It was discovered that despite the structural similarities in earlier products, the BKF environmental context and modernism approach determines it’s use. It was discovered that the chair is a source of inspiration and self-expression for all ages. The designs openness has spurred possibilities for interpretation, many adding form based accessories and adjustments to suit 21st Century structure. The extensive fan based exemplified through countless Pinterest boards and blogs have been symptoms of globalization and technology growth. Alleviated ristricted accessibility from the United States and Argentina, the chair is now available online and in many different stores. Continued accessibility to this iconic sling chair will ensure the informal message of social engagement and relaxation continues. It was challenging writing this PA as a result of the uncontrolled production of the BKF. Certain manufactures were designated out of scope, those who diverted from the core semantics of the original product. This criteria helped frame and focus the story, balancing complexity and effectiveness. 17
  18. 18. 181818 Juan Kurchan Jorge Ferrari Hardoy Antonio Bonet S146107 – Brook McKay Product analysis of the BKF
  19. 19. References •  Airborne n.d. “Collections” Accessed March 1, 2015. http://www.airborne.fr/#!collections/c1p9kA. •  BigBKF n.d. “Fabrication” Accessed February 26, 2015. https://www.pinterest.com/antoniouy/bkf-con-o-en-famosos/. •  Bodie and Fau n.d. “AA Butterfly chair – Black structure” Accessed February 26, 2015. https://www.bodieandfou.com/products/aa-butterfly-chair-black-structure. •  CB2. 2015. “1938 tobacco leather butterfly chair” Accessed March 1, 2015. http://www.cb2.com/1938-tobacco-leather-butterfly-chair/s185649. •  Cuero. 2015. ”La Mariposa.." Accessed February 27, 2015. http://www.cuerodesign.com/mariposa_leather.html. 19
  20. 20. References •  Dario Alfonsi n.d. “Tripolina” Accessed February 28, 2015. http://darioalfonsi.com/new-chairs/tripolina/. •  Design Museum n.d. “B.K.F. Hardoy Chair” Accessed February 28, 2015. http://www.design-museum.de/en/collection/100-masterpieces/detailseiten/bkf-hardoy- chair-grupo-austral.html. •  Dobell, William. 1979. “Modern and Postmodern” Accessed February 26, 2015. http://www.sharecom.ca/greenberg/postmodernism.html. •  El Rincon del Vago. 1998. “La decada de 1930” Accessed February 26, 2015. http://html.rincondelvago.com/argentina-en-1930.html. 20
  21. 21. References •  Frommer’s n.d. “History” Accessed February 27, 2015. http://www.frommers.com/destinations/buenos-aires/672897#sthash.UqANap1h.N7b49V 2o.dpbs. •  Gareth., R. Jones, George, M., Jennifer. (2013). Essentials of Contemporary Management 5th edn. McGraw Hill: New York, United States •  Greenbaum, Hilary and Dana Rubinstein. 2012. “Who Made That Butterfly Chair” Accessed February 28, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/11/magazine/who-made-that-butterfly-chair.html?_r=0. •  Gonzalez-Arnao, Antonio. 2011. “BKF con o en famosos” Accessed March 1, 2015. https://www.pinterest.com/antoniouy/bkf-con-o-en-famosos/. 21
  22. 22. References •  Gonzalez-Arnao, Antonio. 2011. “Marcel Breuer” Accessed February 27, 2015. http://anexosolanadelmar.blogspot.dk/2011_02_01_archive.html. •  Klatt Beth, Mary. 1999. “Float Like a Butterfly” Accessed February 27, 2015. http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1999-02-21/news/9902210428_1_slipcover-butterfly- chair-sling. •  Liernur, Jorge Francisco. 2011. “..A CIAM Brigade In The Far South 1937-1948” Accessed February 26, 2015. http://sma.sciarc.edu/subclip/jorge-francisco-liernur-austral-group-a-ciam-brigade-in-the- far-south-1937-1948-clip_4309/. •  Livon World. 2014. “L’OGGETTO CULT: LA SEDIA BUTTERFLY BKF” Accessed March 1, 2015. http://www.livonworld.it/2014/04/16/loggetto-cult-sedia-butterfly-bkf/. 22
  23. 23. References •  MoMA n.d. “B.K.F. Chair” Accessed February 28, 2015. http://www.moma.org/collection/object.php?object_id=4393. •  Remodelista n.d. “AA Airborne Butterfly Chair” Accessed February 28, 2015. http://www.remodelista.com/products/aa-airborne-butterfly-chair. •  Vihma, Susann. 2009. “On design semiotics" Accessed February 27, 2015. http://www.mei-info.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/MEI_3031_13.pdf. •  Weinbaum n.d. “The modern view” Accessed February 28, 2015. http://www.weinbaum.eu/epages/ 63212480.sf/en_GB/?ObjectPath=/Shops/63212480/Products/1%5B8%5D. 23