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Ercol Butterfly Chair

Ercol Butterfly Chair Weight 3.5 kg
Ercol Butterfly Chair
Weight 3.5 kg
£627.00all prices incl. VAT., excl. shipping costs
sold, no longer available

Product Information

Article Number 14787

Design Lucian Ercolani, 1958. Seat and backrest of elm plywood (origin North America). Beechwood frame (origin France), painted black.
Height 80 cm, width 52 cm, depth 49 cm. Seat height 46.5 cm, seat 43 x 32 cm. Weight 3.9 kg.

General Information

Ercol 401 (1958) – The Butterfly.

Although Ercol’s historic catalogues and archives feature this chair from 1958, with its steam-bent seat and backrest made of elm plywood and beech frame, under the demure label “401 Preformed Chair”, it has worn the very fitting name “Butterfly Chair” since its first re-edition in 2002, when Ercol reissued it. The fact that it is perceived not as a historical reminiscence, but as a still valid, state-of-the-art designed piece of furniture, perhaps also testifies to its ubiquity as a piece of stand equipment at trade fairs in the UK – i.e. in places where the appearance of the exhibition stand should demonstrate the "contemporaneity" of the goods presented. We offer it in an edition with a black lacquered beech frame, which visually emphasises both the function and construction elements in different colours. The seat is provided with distinctive points where the chair legs and the backrest are attached. They are created in the usual way of mounting: The through connections are not only glued but also fixed with a small wedge, which makes the construction much more stable. With the connections sandblasted and smoothed, this has resulted, since 1953, in an Ercol-typical design feature.

Old simplicity revisited.

When asked, what were the characteristics of British furniture manufacture, Lucian Ercolani once observed: “We are great simplifiers in this country“. That’s certainly right, but it’s only half the truth. In the history of British furniture manufacture, the pendulum has swung between two poles: from styles which are unabashedly opulent to those which in construction and design are more austere and reserved - and back. The latter is represented by the Windsor-style which became popular in the 18th century. Windsor furniture is lighter weight and designed more for function than pomp. Its most striking feature is the way that it is constructed around its functional surface and the backrest and the classic, slightly slanted chair legs made of turned wood are fastened to the seat. In the mid-20th century, they were “transposed” by furniture builders like Lucian Ercolani into the present when they became the dominant British furniture style. Since then fashion has advanced by two swings of the pendulum. After parting company in the seventies with the post-war aesthetics for chairs, tables and benches and revelling in a luxuriously upholstered seating landscape, the demand has returned for stable, well thought out, craftsman-like Windsor furniture à la Ercolani. That furniture is still around, because Furniture Industries Limited, founded in 1920 and renamed in 1958 as Ercol, is still around. In the last few years the firm has unearthed the treasure left behind by the founding father: under the rubric of ”Ercol Originals,“ the original designs of Lucian Ercolani have been re-issued.

„The Old Man“. Lucian Ercolani.

For many, British Ercol was the incarnation of Windsor furniture. Right after completing his studies at the Shoreditch Technical Institute in East End, Lucian Ercolani began learning furniture design, occupying positions of responsibility in the most important British furniture firms in High Wycombe. He then set up his own production facility at the age of 32 in order to have a free hand in the marketing and design of furniture. However, his perception of that latter aspect, the design freedom, was modest. His ambition was never to reinvent ’the chair’ in a cataclysmic fit of modernity. Ercolani saw design as an evolutionary process. His concern was to continue the work of furniture forerunners and to improve it model by model. That was especially the case for his Windsor selection. Drawings which have survived are based on an intimate familiarity with historical chair model designs and show clearly how Ercolani took the idea of Windsor furniture and consistently perfected it.
‘The Old Man’, as he was respectfully known to his employees, set up a modern machine park in order to realise new shapes and produce furniture affordable for the average British income. It was part of his assertive style to count on the inventiveness of his company’s engineers. It was said that the Old Man’s motto was, “If there was no machine for the task, they would invent one“. The interaction between precise craftsmanship and modern technology was the key to success. Ercol furniture was a standard feature in many British households and the carefully cultivated trademark, the ”Ercolion“, a lion in joiner’s garb, achieved wide-spread name recognition.

Ercol today.

Ercol got back in the game by trusting in the old virtues: precise craftsmanship coupled with the deployment of highly modern machines. In addition, Ercol still cultivates a conservative model policy. Some designs have been in the program for decades and were only slightly altered over the years. And among the novelties designed by contemporary designers in the recent period, it is plain to see that despite all attempts at expression they maintain allegiance to the design ideas of the founder. From that standpoint a new edition of his best designs is logical. Ercol is still a family run business today and since 1993 Edward Tadros, a grandson of Lucian Ercolani, runs the company
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