Opening tomorrow at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City,  the exhibition Plywood: Material, Process, Form showcases “modern designs that take advantage of the formal and aesthetic possibilities offered by plywood, from around 1930 through the 1950s.” Long queued up in my files, this gives me the perfect excuse to showcase one of my favorite design items of the 1950s, Sori Yanagi’s brilliant Butterfly Stool. A piece coveted by collectors and displayed world-wide in museums, I have always had a soft spot for this modern Japanese classic.

A masterpiece of curved plywood wings, almost in flight, made by steaming and pressing layers of wood into a mold, the stool is an accent piece that works in almost any design or interior. We see ceramic garden stools constantly, in every issue of every magazine these days. The butterfly stool serves all the same functions and I am all for some more butterflies.

It is perfect as a seat or a place for a stack of books in modern rustic bedroom.

Kids can’t reach the milk? Want a stylish boost?

To those of you in Japan, doesn’t this feel familiar?

For many years, the stool, made by a Japanese manufacturer called Tendo, was only available in Japan and it is currently available in their on-line shop. But since the 1990s, Vitra, a Swiss company already making many Charles & Ray Eames and George Nelson pieces, has had a license to produce them as well. Currently available from Hive, Design Within Reach, and other retailers around the world, the stool continues to be offered in pressed maple or rosewood.

If you are loving the molded plywood vibe, check out Lonny Magazine’s Trend Alert! Cool, but none of these do it for me like the butterfly…

Image credits: 1. MOMA, 2 & 4. via designroof, 3. House & Garden, date unknown, 5. Lonny Magazine blog