INSPIRED BY NATURE
FROM NATURE TO NURTURE
“Insects are beautiful creatures of nature. Each element of their bodies has a specific function – a true encounter between form and function, distilled into the essential. We found inspiration for a chair that could be at once highly functional as well as beautiful.”
From beetle to beetle
Plants and animals have adapted over millennia to respond to evolutionary niches and perhaps none more so than the humble beetle. 300,000 species live across the globe in almost every environment on land or in water. Their sheer diversity and adaptability have seen them inform and inspire everything from ancient cultural myths to twentieth-century cars and british pop bands.
The growing discipline of biomimicry proposes the ancient ingenuity of nature be translated into contemporary product and furniture design, in order to seek smarter solutions that are good for our mental and physical health as well as the planet.
“The perfection, honesty and harmony found in nature can suggest technical resolutions and aesthetic forms. By mimicking the finer details of nature with form, function, proportion or pattern, we can re-create biophilic human connections and healthy responses to the natural environment.”
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.
Micromovements for maximum comfort
The structure of a beetle’s articulated shell comprises solid plates connected by flexible sutures, which allow the beetle to move, while maintaining protection and form.
Echoing the structure of the beetle’s exoskeleton, the Beetle Chair’s two-part shell is made from one continuous curve.
It is engineered to enable micromovements that respond to the sitter, ensuring ergonomic performance while maintaining a strong silhouette.
The cushioned inner surface of the chair reflects the soft underbelly of the beetle – so ingeniously protected by its shell – and nurtures the human body in intimacy and comfort.
“It looks solid and impenetrable and yet, in places, it is sinuous and flexible, and this seeming contradiction is what enables it to move freely. All these elements are linked and work together in a fascinating way. One of the many reasons we studied beetles was their ability to carry out technical movements while keeping their parts rigid and defined.”
Form inspired by nature
The beetle chair’s upholstered inner shell can be customized in any one of a vast array of fabrics, further echoing the versatility of its insect namesake. Its distinctive expression enables the beetle chair to carry even bold colors and graphic patterns – or upholstery can be color matched to the plastic shell for a more understated finish.
Bases are available in a range of carefully considered finishes, with stacking and castor versions adding further functionality.
The collection doesn’t quite match the 300,000 species of beetle, but there’s enough to ensure the perfect fit.
“Beetles are dynamic insects so we wanted to create variants of the Beetle Chair adding new functionality each time, while carefully reproportioning the form to maintain their distinctive aesthetic.”
“The Beetle Chair was one of the most complex projects we had ever undertaken. It is still the most significant piece for us. It has marked our careers and our design language. It has been with us for almost 10 years, but still manages to charm us with its design – a beautiful line that flows harmoniously through space.”
Bringing beetle back to nature
Curious about the anatomy of insects in general, gamfratesi was particularly drawn to the unique combination of delicacy and strength embodied by the beetle. The beetle chair has borrowed inspiration from the world of insects in nature, becoming one of gubi’s most iconic designs and a true global success story.