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Emeco

American

While they’re best known for their revolutionary Navy chair, iconic American furniture company Emeco makes a whole range of seating and other furniture — not just seaworthy chairs. The development of each product is guided by an eco-friendly ethos and pragmatic approach to design.

Emeco began to take shape during the 1940s, when the U.S. Navy needed a lightweight, fireproof chair that could withstand a torpedo blast and hold up to use by “big, burly sailors,” says Gregg Buchbinder, Emeco’s chief executive.

With experts from the Aluminum Company of America, an engineer named Wilton C. Dinges (1916–74) delivered, and the Emeco 1006 — that is, the Navy chair — an aluminum classic, was born. In order to demonstrate the chair’s sturdiness, Dinges threw it from the eighth floor of a hotel in Chicago, and when it landed, the chair bounced in lieu of breaking or bending.

The engineer secured a contract to manufacture the Navy chair beginning in 1944 at the Electrical Machine and Equipment Company (Emeco), which he’d founded a few years earlier in Hanover, Pennsylvania. In the ensuing decades, the factory’s craftsmen would stamp out by hand hundreds of thousands of Navy chairs for battleships, aircraft carriers and submarines — a process that requires more than 70 steps.

Today, the impossibly durable Navy chair, which is recyclable and made of at least 80 percent recycled aluminum, inspires knockoffs left and right and can be found in a variety of public settings, from upscale restaurants to hotels and offices. But it took time to get here.

In 1979, Gregg’s father, Jay Buchbinder, a businessman whose Long Beach, California, furniture company manufactured seating for fast food restaurants, purchased Emeco. The company hit a rough patch in the 1990s. When Gregg acquired Emeco from Jay in 1998, he took the $2 million in debt that came along with it. Fortuitously, Gregg learned that the Navy chair had taken on a new nonmilitary identity around the same time and that it was increasingly seen as sleek and retro in addition to being great submarine seating. Orders for the Navy chair were coming in from design luminaries like Ettore Sottsass, Giorgio Armani and a daring young French designer named Philippe Starck, who purchased a large number of 1006s for Ian Schrager’s Paramount hotel in New York City.

Gregg seized on Emeco’s newfound popularity, initiating a partnership with Starck, who would design the company’s Hudson Collection, a line planned for Manhattan’s Hudson Hotel that saw the Navy chair take on the form of a barstool and other pieces. He also partnered with Frank Gehry, whose Superlight chair for Emeco can be hoisted off the ground with one hand. Collaborations with Jasper Morrison, Jean Nouvel and others followed, and today, Emeco continues to build durable seating furniture from a range of recycled materials with a variety of designers.

Find authentic Emeco chairs, stools, tables and other furniture on 1stDibs.

Average Sold Price
$1,453
Styles
Materials
Emeco Hudson Chair in Brushed Aluminum by Philippe Starck
By Emeco, Philippe Starck
Located in Hanover, PA
The Hudson, designed for the Hudson hotel in NYC, is Emeco and Starck’s first collaboration. Starck described the chair as “washing the details from the Navy Chair”. It takes an addi...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary American Modern Emeco

Materials

Aluminum

Emeco Counter Stool in Polished Aluminum by Philippe Starck
By Emeco, Philippe Starck
Located in Hanover, PA
The Museum of Modern Art asked Philippe Starck and Emeco to make a simple stool for the “Mies Van der Rohe in Berlin” retrospective. The result is one of our best selling stools, a c...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary American Modern Emeco

Materials

Aluminum

Emeco Alfi 3-Seat Bench in White and Ash with Low Back by Jasper Morrison
By Emeco, Jasper Morrison
Located in Hanover, PA
Emeco and Morrison together, designed and engineered The Alfi Collection with the conviction that what you don't see is as important as what you do see. Alfi reflects Emeco and Morri...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary American Modern Emeco

Materials

Wood

Emeco 20-06 Medium Square Café Table with White Laminate Top by Norman Foster
By Emeco, Sir Norman Foster
Located in Hanover, PA
Emeco’s collaboration with Norman Foster resulted in the “20-06” collection. Foster envisioned a “neutral” table - visually and physically lightweight. ”I appreciate the anonymous ch...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary American Modern Emeco

Materials

Aluminum

Emeco Alfi Low Back Chair with Black Powder-Coated Aluminum Frame by Jasper
By Emeco, Jasper Morrison
Located in Hanover, PA
Emeco and Jasper Morrison together, designed and engineered the Alfi collection with the conviction that what you don't see is as important as what you do see. Made of reclaimed mate...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary American Modern Emeco

Materials

Aluminum

Emeco Alfi Counter Stool in White and Ash with High Back by Jasper Morrison
By Emeco, Jasper Morrison
Located in Hanover, PA
"Emeco and Morrison together, designed and engineered The Alfi collection with the conviction that what you don't see is as important as what you do see. Alfi reflects Emeco and Morr...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary American Modern Emeco

Materials

Wood

Emeco Broom Stacking Chair in Tan by Philippe Starck
By Emeco, Philippe Starck
Located in Hanover, PA
Philippe Starck and Emeco came together to create a new chair that is reclaimed, repurposed, recyclable – and designed to last. The chair is made from 75% waste polypropylene and 15%...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary American Modern Emeco

Materials

Plastic

Emeco 111 Navy Counter Stool in Charcoal by Coca-Cola
By Emeco
Located in Hanover, PA
The 111 Navy Collection is a story of innovation, turning waste plastic into something people will keep. Each stool is made of 150 recycled PET bottles. Like the original 111 Navy ch...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary American Modern Emeco

Materials

Plastic

Browse all Furniture from Emeco
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Emeco Sellers

Aaron Mapp
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Barbarella Home
4.8
Erin Lane Estate
5.0
GALLERYK7
5.0
Le Shoppe Too
4.9
Merchant and Found
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Pintér Gallery
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Emeco furniture for sale on 1stDibs

Furniture from Emeco are available for sale on 1stDibs. These distinctive objects are frequently made of metal and designed with extraordinary care. In our Emeco collection, there are many options to choose from, although gray editions of this piece are particularly popular. In stock are 7 vintage editions of these items, while there are 933 modern editions to choose from as well. Many original furniture by Emeco were created in North America during the 21st century and contemporary style in Modern style. If you are looking for additional options, many customers also consider furniture by Kelly Wearstler, Adrian Van Hooydonk and Jasper Morrison. Prices for Emeco furniture can vary depending on size, time period and other attributes. 1stDibs's price starts at $170 and tops out at US$5,970, while pieces like these can sell for US$1,033.

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