The Iconic Gubi Beetle Chair By GamFratesi

Beetles have been wandering this planet for at least 250 million years, possibly a lot longer. That’s pretty much the definition of a design classic. They have seen the dinosaurs come and go and are still around to inspire the human race. They have been treated as pests, worshipped and treated in just about every way possible between those extremes. It is appropriate, then, that one of the oldest types of animal has become the inspiration for one of the newest furniture creations, the iconic Gubi Beetle Chair by GamFratesi. 

It took hardly any time for the chair to take its place among the design greats after being launched in 2013. Furthermore, it is designed for flexibility and comfort, it has a timeless look that will fit just about any room, and can come in so many variations of upholstery, colour, bases and styles that it will do any job you can ask from a chair.

Introducing GamFratesi

A novel design takes flair from imaginative designers. Enter GamFratesi, whose brainchild the Beetle Chair is. The contraction encompasses a creative partnership sparked in 2004 when Stine Gam and Enrico Fratesi were both students. It has flourished over the years. The GamFratesi identity emerged two years later, and now they are partners in both life and business, leading the way in modern design. All that despite coming from radically different backgrounds.

She is from Copenhagen and steeped in the principles of Scandinavian design. He is from Pesaro in Italy and immersed in the intellectual and emotional styles of his home country. Both had backgrounds in architecture and a fascination with design. The fusion worked and the two hit it off immediately.After meeting when Stine Gam was on an exchange programme in Italy, ideas blossomed. Scandinavian design is all about simplicity, clean lines and functionalism. Italian inspiration tends more towards classicism and a strong emotional input. Blend the two, and you have the makings of something special.

Meet the Beetle

The humble beetle is arguably the most successful animal group on earth. Some estimates reckon 40 percent of all animal species in the world are a beetle of one form or another. They live on every continent apart from Antarctica. Though there are almost 400,000 different types known, there actually may be as many as two million species, with most waiting to be discovered.

We found inspiration for a chair that could be at once highly functional as well as beautiful.


Given all that, it is a safe bet that beetles have probably solved most of the design puzzles in existence. They live in every environment and flourish everywhere. That is a solid record of success across the board and a good basis for starting a design revolution. Of course, in furniture they can be a menace, woodworm is, after all, really a beetle. They are not just boring, however, some fly, some only crawl, some burrow, some swim. Some are microscopically tiny, some are as big as an insect can get. All of them have one thing in common – they have triumphed in whatever environment they have found themselves.

Design inspiration

Not only are beetles successful in their own right, but they have been inspiring people for a long, long time. The ancient Egyptians, for example, were so impressed by the strength and determination of the humble dung beetle that they even derived god from it. He was called Khepri and handled creation and rebirth because the ancient Egyptians believed the insects came fully formed from the dung they shifted. 

Furthermore, the way they roll those balls of dung around came to be seen as mimicking the path of the sun. No wonder scarabs, jewelled models of dung beetles, are so common among treasures found there. In more recent times, there is the beetle car, which copies its shape from its namesake. Even if you choose to ignore the pun that gave us a 1960s pop music quartet that set teenage girls screaming for reasons that had nothing to do with not liking creepy-crawlies, the beetle has been influential in engineering, fabric design, fashion and so many more fields.

Think about the shape of the beetle, just as GamFratesi did. It has that curved shell where pieces move against each other in perfect harmony. The whole thing then protects the body parts inside. “Curiously, this seeming contradiction is what enables it to move freely,” explained Enrico Fratesi. “Indeed, one of the many reasons we studied beetles was their ability to carry out technical movements while keeping their parts rigid and defined.”

Beetles get into furniture

“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.” That was how GamFratesi described how they found the source of their concept in the humble insect.

They reasoned the beetle has been so successful that it must be doing something right. The shape was perfect for furniture. The idea of something with a hard outside but soft inside has an obvious attraction when it came to chair design.

What is the Gubi Beetle Chair

The design breakthrough was to create the shape of the chair in two sections, each mirroring the sensuous curves of the beetle outline. That allowed GamFratesi to create the hard exterior they were looking for, with plenty of room to add as much padding as they thought they needed to the inside. Even better, the joint between the seat and back is a continuous curve, also copied from the beetle, and is flexible. That allows some degree of movement within the chair that adds to the comfort.

Even better, they could make the iconic Gubi Beetle Chair by GamFratesi modular, allowing them to tweak the basic designs for different functions. You can easily change the height and padding on both the seat and the back. The same goes for how far it wraps around the sitter. You can add any style of base, from the traditional four legs to a swivel base or a funky conical shape.

On top of that, the customer can upholster the Gubi Beetle chair any way they want. In a restaurant or hotel foyer, the buyers are presumably looking for comfortable padding inside a hard-wearing fabric. For the home, you can go with something softer and more luxurious such as velvet. Wear and tear may be the dominating factor in an office or restaurant.

“Indeed, one of the many reasons we studied beetles was their ability to carry out technical movements while keeping their parts rigid and defined.”


The Gubi Beetle dining chair opts for comfort with freedom of movement. Other styles like the felt-covered chair concentrate more on luxury and the out-and-out comfort factor.

Is the Gubi Beetle Chair Comfortable?

The important thing about any chair people may use for long periods is that it should be comfortable. Thanks to its clever design, the iconic Gubi Beetle Chair by GamFratesi is the last word in comfort.

Whichever style you go for, the durable outer shell is a continuous, curved form designed to flex gently. That makes it comfortable, even if you’ve been sitting in it for a long time. Its ability to move with you makes it ideal for long dinners or even for longer meetings. Those designs probably come with the elegant metal or wooden legs that add to the image of the beetle that dominated the designers’ thinking. You can cover it in anything you want, from robust artificial fibres to soft, sensuous velvet. You can pad the seat and leave the back bare to show off its lines and form.

Gubi and the Beetle Chair

Though the Beetle Chair did not start life as a project specifically for Gubi, it was always where it was likely to be developed. GamFratesi had been working with the Danish furniture maker pretty much from the start of their partnership and when they started developing their ideas, there was only one place they were likely to go. Gubi has always been famous for designing, developing and marketing a daring and elegant collection of furniture. It aims to find pieces that evoke emotion and tell meaningful stories. The idea is to bring forgotten icons of the past together with the classics of tomorrow.

The result is a collection that spans almost 100 years of history and is sold all over the world.The beetle chair is part of that, and the original model was the start of a fruitful liaison. Together the designers and manufacturers could develop the beetle project into a family of products including chairs, stools and sofas with many different bases and structures. The latest addition is the version made from weather-resistant plastic, allowing you to go without any upholstery for outdoor use.The original concept came with thin metal legs – again mimicking the beetle look – but as the range expanded, a they added a vast array of different base options. There are now base choices for just about any room in the house, office, restaurant or hotel.

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Chair Perfection?

It’s hard to find a fault with the iconic Gubi Beetle Chair by GamFratesi design. Comfort, versatility, a wide variety of choices in shape and covering. All true of this chair. In any setting where clean Scandinavian lines are the main theme, the Beetle Chair will fit right in. That is entirely by design. GamFratesi made it that way. “Its free, organic yet precise line is what makes the Beetle Chair unique. Every time we see it reinterpreted in prestigious international projects, it is an unexpected honour. But then, we have spent almost a decade with it, and that line, flowing harmoniously through space, still manages to charm even us,” the GamFratesi partners concluded.

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