MAKING OF AN ICON
Strikingly simple in form but full of personality, GamFratesi’s Beetle Chair combines crafted details and advanced manufacturing technologies to produce something truly original: a highly versatile, extremely comfortable, and beautifully expressive dining chair inspired by the forms of nature.
CRAFT MEETS TECHNOLOGY
In 2013, GUBI and GamFratesi introduced the Beetle Chair to the world, and a modern design classic was born. The Beetle’s unique success as a design is rooted in its distinctive fusion of artisanal craftsmanship and technologically advanced production techniques. Like the insect that inspired it, the chair combines an almost mechanical exactitude of form with an organic, contoured softness – a duality that mirrors the man-meets-machine story of its making.
MOLDED FOR MOVEMENT
One of the distinctive features of GamFratesi’s inspiration, the beetle insect, is its ability to make complex movements while keeping its constituent parts rigid and defined. Echoing this, the chair’s elegant 10-millimeter, single-curved outer shell, had to be capable of flexing in response to the body’s micro-movements in such a way as to ensure high ergonomic performance while maintaining a strong silhouette.
The manufacturing process used to achieve this pushes thermo-plastic technology to its limits, creating a shell with a continuous curved form that is robust and firm, while retaining flexibility. The high-pressure injection-molded plastic of the Beetle Chair’s outer shell exhibits a slight bend, just like a technical office chair but – thanks to variations in thickness of the shell at certain points – maintains the graceful, domestic aesthetic that so many design fans have fallen in love with over the last decade.
CRAFTED FOR COMFORT
The unique flex of the Beetle Chair’s shell allows it to offer movement-responsive support for long periods of time, enabling effortless switching between different sitting positions. This level of comfort is enhanced further in the chair’s upholstered variants, which feature dual layers of high-performance foam.
The lower, firmer layer is configured to maximize comfort during long periods of sitting, whereas the softer upper layer that covers it provides a feeling of indulgence and relaxation from the instant you sit down. Precision-cut to fit the shell, the foam layers perfectly cover the Beetle’s hard edges, giving the upholstered chair the comfort for which the chair is celebrated.
While cutting-edge technology and production techniques deliver the high degree of accuracy needed to create the Beetle’s extraordinary shape, the final touches that underpin its crafted identity are performed manually. Upholstery fabrics and leathers are individually checked and quality-tested for any imperfections, and individually inspected to ensure they are evenly stretched across the curved shell. Where the front and back panels meet, a special piping technique adds an aesthetic finish, with the final stitching completed by hand.
The Beetle’s lightness of expression is partly down to the finessed form of its legs. Tapering down from the frame below the seat to the floor, the legs have a conic shape that elevates the seat and contributes to the delicacy and refinement of the chair’s silhouette. Visually softening the steel frame in this way presents a significant technical challenge, requiring that the steel be heated and shaped to the finest degree in order to balance the legs’ organic, beetle-like elegance with the engineered sturdiness of the frame.
After shaping, the legs are treated to obtain different finishes in variations of black, chrome and brass, each requiring a unique surface application to achieve flawless results. For the antique brass variant, hand-polishing delivers the distinctive vintage look.
THE DESIGN THAT KEEPS ON GIVING
The beauty of the Beetle is not just aesthetic; GamFratesi’s design has proven extraordinarily versatile, allowing the creation of an expansive and ever-growing furniture family. Thanks to the adaptability of its original design language, the Beetle Collection has grown to include chairs for every function, as well as sofas, and stools.
“The Beetle Chair is one of the most complex projects we have ever undertaken. Its free, organic, yet precise line is what makes it unique. One of the most significant pieces in the history of our practice, the Beetle has shaped both our careers and our design language.”
Stine Gam and Enrico Fratesi, Designers, GamFratesi
Danish-Italian design duo GamFratesi has been working with GUBI since the inception of their studio and, with their own dual heritage, share GUBI’s ability to synthesize seemingly opposing ideas – the classic and the contemporary, the intellectual and the eclectic, the understated and the expressive, the manufactured and the unique. In the case of the Sejour Lounge Chair, the contrasts between light and weighty, warm and cool, and soft and firm, provide nuanced internal dialogues that capture the imagination.
AT ONCE ICONIC AND ERGONOMIC
For the Beetle Chair, GamFratesi became captivated by the idea of translating the form of a beetle into a product for the home. The pair drew on the form and function of an archetypal beetle to create an iconic and ergonomic chair with a hard, yet supple, two-part outer shell with comfortable inner surface.