"Butterfly" Stool

Designed by Yanagi Sori, Japanese, 1915 - 2011. Made by Tendo Mokko, Tendo, Japan, 1940 - present.

Made in Japan, Asia

Designed 1954

Plywood, metal

15 3/8 x 16 9/16 x 12 3/16 inches (39.1 x 42.1 x 31 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Decorative Arts and Sculpture

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Tendo Co., Ltd., 1983

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Additional information:
  • PublicationJapanese Design: A Survey Since 1950

    Sori Yanagi employed modern materials and manufacturing processes while exploiting vernacular forms and traditional styles. His best-known work, this Butterfly stool, blurred the strict distinctions between Western and Japanese houses before the war: while the stool as a type belonged to Western interiors, Yanagi's form suggests the exuberant curves of Japanese architecture--the buoyant upward sweep of the legs and overhang of the seat--giving the stool the appearance of floating free like the butterfly that inspired its name. Non-Western is the stool's calligraphic aptness, which deemphasizes its structure and three-dimensional form. Made of two molded-plywood shells, the stool could be assembled at home. Kathyrn B. Hiesinger and Felice Fischer, Japanese Design: A Survey since 1950. Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1994, cat. 27, p. 64.