Emeco was founded in 1944 by Witton C. Dinges. The company grew out of a dialogue between Dinges and metals manufacturer Alcoa (“Aluminum Company of America”) to create a chair that would withstand the harsh conditions and heavy use found on military sea vessels. The resultant collaboration between Emeco, Alcoa, and Navy engineers resulted in Emeco’s flagship, the 1006 Navy Chair, an icon in American design that reflects the vision of founder Dinges: “a one piece sculpted masterwork.”
Product: Navy Chair —
The Emeco legacy began with this handcrafted, painstakingly welded, and flawlessly finished work of art. The Navy Chair also sports a most telling silhouette—that of the sculptural backside of actress and entertainer Betty Grable, who figured large in the daydreams of most military men. As Emeco’s Navy Chair is built to last for 150+ years, Ms. Grable’s iconic posterior has provided a comfortable and ergonomic rest for generations of consumers. Each Navy Chair is handmade in the company’s Hanover, PA factory, and each displays Emeco’s trademark indicators of quality and authenticity: a 77-step process beginning with soft-tempered aluminum, monolithic construction with welded joints, no fasteners, and a hand-polished finish.
Product: Navy 111 —
By the late 90s Emeco was experiencing some financial hardship, until owner Gregg Buchbinder had a revelation: the company’s salvation could reside in high-profile collaboration. Realizing that renowned designers such as Frank Gehry and Norman Foster had long been ordering Emeco chairs directly from the factory, Buchbinder began collaborating with individuals (including Gehry and Foster) as well as companies. In 2006, Emeco announced the 111 Navy Chair. Produced in cooperation with Coca-Cola, the 111 is an exact replica of the original Navy Chair yet constructed of recycled plastic—111 refers to the number of Coke bottles in every chair. The 111 Navy Chair is a faithful replica of the 1006, right down to the weld marks at each joint. 111 comes in a palette of vibrant colors, including red, grass green, and persimmon.
Designer: Philippe Starck —
Long an admirer of Emeco chairs, designer Starck once said an Emeco Chair is made of blood, sweat, tears, and love. The handcrafted nature of the chairs appealed to Starck and he began collaborating with Emeco in the late 90s. The fruits of this labor of love are seen in Starck’s several Emeco collections: Heritage, Hudson, Icon, and Kong, each of which synthesize Emeco’s proven manufacturing process with Starck’s signature designs.
Category: Emeco Stools —
In 2001 Emeco designed a prototype barstool for the Mies van der Rohe retrospective at the New York Museum of Modern Art. Created for an installation in a recreated café originally designed by Mies and Lily Reich, the Emeco barstool exemplifies the durable, industrial aesthetic prized by the Bauhaus. Just like the chairs, Emeco Stools are made from 80% recycled aluminum. They’re handmade and monolithic, featuring the same sculptural lines and welded joints as all of Emeco’s aluminum furniture. Emeco Stools come in multiple styles and sizes, including Starck’s Kong Counter Stool and the Nine-O Stacking Counter Stool series by Ettore Sottsass.
Emeco continues to focus on creating their signature long-lasting and extraordinarily durable aluminum chairs, while expanding their operations with recycled plastic. In their collaboration with Coke, the company has continued the paradigm of wise resource use
Begun in 1944 when they worked with Alcoa. Built to last for 150 years, an Emeco chair is not only an iconic emblem of American A&D, it’s a model for sustainable design.