Like a Butterfly


Design by Alexander Taylor, E&Y Zanotta Co-Edition

Stella McCartney chose it for her design showroom in the heart of New York. It is the Butterfly coffee table, designed by Englishman Alexander Taylor (called Alex by everyone) for the 2006 Zanotta collection, one of the pieces made in coedition with the Japanese brand E&Y. «I wanted to create a small piece of handcrafted furniture on the borderline between genuine art and design, one of those friendly and comfortable presences that give a personal touch to furnishings», the designer told Happenings. «The first version of Butterfly was made of an acrylic material – perspex to be precise – then together with E&Y we made a series of prototypes with a plywood base and glass surface. In the beginning there was only one “butterfly” in the centre of the structure, but we realized very quickly that if it was tobe stressed by unexpected movements, the coffee table was prone to losing its solidity. So we doubled it. The result was more than satisfactory. The veneered oak plywood perfectly lent itself to being bent according to the design, and with the sinuous form I wanted. It is only afterwards that the sheet is perforated». If until a few years ago the art of perforation was found only amongst businesses purely handicraft in nature, today its versatility is being discovered in industrial design applications combined with programming with numerical control devices. In order to get extraordinary sculptured objects, computer-guided cutting and perforation are used in any case. Downright 3D “fractal geometries” come out of them. «When we got a finished prototype of Taylor’s Butterfly coffee table in hand, we immediate liked it. It was not the first time that it was decided to produce a piece prepared by the ‘forge’ of the Japanese E&Y’s cutting edge design. However, first of all we understood that the best thing to do with this piece of furniture would be to make it brand-new in our industrial district», explained Zanotta Technical Office Manager Daniele Greppi. «So we decided to remake the mould in order to also get the more difficult angulations in the most precise and harmonious way, using a ‘5-axis’ type of machine. The world of engraving is an alchemy of hollow and full spaces. And with modern instruments, it is possible to start with a flat rectangle and achieve perforated threedimensional shapes – even quite complex – that live in space, solid and lightweight at the same time».