American furniture brand Emeco has been in business for 75 years and created one of the world's most iconic dining chairs: the classic Navy Chair. This was the chair that launched the company back in 1944, marking the beginning of a remarkable journey that is no less impressive in 2019. The longevity of the Pennsylvania-based brand's designs is undeniable, and there is no question that their chairs have an illustrious future.
Creating an icon - The Navy Chair was designed by Emeco's founder Wilton Carlyle Dinges to be used on American navy vessels during World War II. There were stringent requirements it had to fulfil, like being lightweight, resistant to the salt air, fireproof and strong enough to support the big burly sailors! The resulting model was handmade from 80% recycled aluminium, constructed through a 77-step process that makes a sturdy chair from the soft raw material.
The chair had such a long lifespan thanks to the decades-long Cold War, but when that came to an end in 1990 the orders for the chair tailed off sharply. The navy vessels were scrapped, but the dining chairs
were salvaged because of their superb design, so there was less need for new orders. Nevertheless, the company was purchased by Buchbinder in 1998, who had noticed that there was a growing demand for the Navy Chair amongst leading interior designers.
Seizing an opportunity - One of these designers was Philippe Starck, who wanted the chairs in the Paramount Hotel he had designed in New York. Buchbinder had realised that the chair had a bright future beyond the US military, and he was right. Today, you will find the chair everywhere from restaurants to schools, hotels and even people's homes. With the new leadership, Emeco developed new products along with new recycled materials for their construction.
2010 saw the launch of the 111 Navy Chair; a plastic reimagining of the iconic design made from precisely 111 recycled plastic bottles. Coca-Cola collaborated on the design, promoting a joint commitment to recycling. And it is recycling that has defined Emeco right from the beginning; a forward-thinking approach that has truly future-proofed the company. Recycling plastic bottles has become one of the most important conservation essentials of the modern age, and Emeco have been among the innovators of this effort, keeping 10 million bottles out of landfill every year.
A positive outlook - Subsequent Emeco products have been equally innovative in their use of recycled materials. Buchbinder's drive towards eco-friendly manufacturing stems from his love of surfing and the ocean. Emeco knows it is our responsibility to recycle as much material as possible, and it is this commitment to protecting the environment that guarantees a strong future for Emeco chairs.