It is the kind of chair that everyone has already seen somewhere, but whose origins few know. Yet Airborne’s AA chair has an exciting history: born in the military, it then traveled from Argentina to New York, before settling permanently in Europe. Here is the story of a great chair.

A base, two ears and four sleeves: these simple elements that form the Airborne AA chair have made it famous at the same time. It is also called the Butterfly armchair precisely because of this recognizable butterfly silhouette.

“Today it is a huge icon of design”, to use the words of Hélène Aguilar, author of the French podcast Where is the beautiful, of which she devotes an entire episode to the mythical chair. “Here is an armchair with singular lines which, paradoxically, stands out for its simplicity and purity. It is also called the Butterfly Chair, because it is true that its shape can make you think of a butterfly that is ready to take flight. »

Recognized, it is also because its design has stood the test of time. “When you buy it, it’s for life, it’s to give it to your children,” says Aurélie Sauthier of Made In, the company that distributes Airborne’s AA chair in Canada. The fact that Made In imports it in bulk allows you to obtain a price similar to that of the French market, starting at $1375 for the structure and the cover.

Finesse and comfort, these are the two words with which Aurélie Sauthier describes the AA armchair. “A good part of the Airborne clientele is for second homes,” she says. Indeed, one of the greatest advantages of the chair lies in its versatility, since it can be used both indoors and outdoors. All you need are two covers, one that’s weatherproof for the summer season, and the other that you can use when the chair moves into the house for the winter.

The AA chair rhymes with “long evenings remaking the world with friends or family,” says Hélène Aguilar in her podcast. “I remember staying in a house I rented a while ago with friends, lost in the middle of nature, and with a bunch of those special chairs on the terrace: the Airborne AAs. »

In fact, the chair turns out to be very comfortable, according to those who have tried it. It must be said that its size is more imposing than one might think. You find yourself sitting there a bit like in a cocoon, sums up Aurélie Sauthier.

Another particularity: it gives the impression of sitting in the air, since the canvas that is slipped around its tubular structure plays both the role of backrest and seat. “So we’re like suspended in the void, it’s really a new and unique feeling”, describes Hélène Aguilar again.

Before making its way into the posh second homes of Europe, it’s hard to believe that the Butterfly chair began its rise in… the army. Indeed, its ancestor, the Tripolina chair, quickly became very popular with the military. It was also called Fenby Chair, named after the British engineer who created this wooden folding chair in the mid-19th century.

Then, in 1938, three designers – two Argentinians, one Catalan – were inspired by it to develop a model they called BKF, a name derived from their three initials. They then replaced the folding wooden structure with metal. Around this structure was inserted a leather cover.

This armchair was a great success and even entered the collections of MOMA in New York. But it wasn’t until the 1950s that the chair was brought back to Europe, when the editor of today’s Architecture magazine fell under its spell during a stay in the United States.

“That’s where the story of the AA chair really began,” says Aurélie Sauthier. Because indeed, it was when the chair was brought back to France that the company Airborne, directed by Charles Bernard, became the exclusive publisher of the chair, which will be called AA (yes, in reference to the initials of the magazine that produced it). allowed discovery). Airborne has since been acquired in 2010 by two women, Christine Pfeiffer and Patricia Lejeune.

Today, the chair comes with a multitude of color and material choices, ranging from linen to cotton and of course leather, the brand’s classic. For the real ones who have had their AA chair for years, know that the new covers still work great on older models. A rarity these days, where many products on the market are victims of obsolescence.