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Butterfly stool by Sori Yanagi | Livingetc design classics | modern decorating | furniture and accessories | PHOTO GALLERY | Livingetc | Housetohome

Butterfly stool by Sori Yanagi

Back in the mid Fifties, plywood was the new wonder material. In LA, Charles and Ray Eames were manipulating it into clever curves with their pressed plywood moulding technique, while in Denmark, Arne Jacobsen was well on his way to creating his Series 7 chair. Enter Sori Yanagi, a Tokyo designer whose Butterfly stool succinctly combined the modernity of flexible wood with a shape that whispered Eastern promise.

Produced in 1954, its undulating elegance made it an instant success: two identical curvilinear panels are joined by brass fittings into a functional, beautiful shape that recalls the wings of a butterfly. It has also variously been compared to Japanese calligraphy, two open palms and the graceful tilt of pagoda roofs.

Yanagi modestly attributed its success to the organic curves, because 'true beauty is not made, it is born naturally'. With it staying in production in Japan since the Fifties, and then reissued by Vitra Design Museum in 2000, it's clear this is one butterfly effect that will continue to create waves.

Butterfly stool, from £373, Aram Store

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Photograph by Chris Everard