As a student, Sori Yanagi had accompanied Charlotte Perriand on her trips through Japan in the 1940s, thus becoming familiar with European classical modernity. It is possible that this is what aroused Yanagi's interest in chairs, something that does not exist in Japanese culture. Even today a large number of Japanese households manage without any kind of seats, even in the cities, since it is traditional to sit on the floor on tatami mats.
In view of this background, Yanagi's Butterfly chair can be described as unusual in a number of aspects. Yanagi does not adopt any familiar Western shapes and at the same time uses the technique employed by Charles and Ray Eames, which involves using bent plywood for industrial manufacturing. The structure of the chair is extraordinarily clever: Two identical shapes connected axisymmetrically by means of two screws underneath the seat and a screwed together brass rod. This creates a shape reminiscent of the torii (gates) to Shinto shrines, which gives the stool an oriental look. At the same time, it calls to mind the wings of a butterfly, hence its name. The stool was awarded the gold medal at the 1957 Milan Triennial.
The miniature by Vitra (scale 1:6) offered here consists of bent plywood and brass.