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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.

Set of Six Brushed Aluminum #111 "Navy" Chairs by Emeco with Cushion
By Emeco
Located in San Diego, CA
Set of six brushed aluminum #111 "Navy" chairs by Emeco, circa 1990s. the set is very sturdy and functional and in very good vintage condition. The chairs come with black Naugahyde ...
Category

Late 20th Century American Industrial Emeco

Materials

Aluminum

Set of Six Emeco Navy Counter Stools in Brushed Aluminum
By Emeco
Located in Rio Vista, CA
Iconic American set of six navy counter height stools finished in brushed aluminum made by Emeco. Designed in 1944 and still in production today. The navy chair is hand-formed from r...
Category

20th Century American Modern Emeco

Materials

Aluminum

2 Bar Stools Tall Brushed Aluminum Indoor Outdoor EMECO Barstools Labeled
By Emeco
Located in Monrovia, CA
2 Tall Brushed Aluminum Indoor Outdoor EMECO Bar Stools, Labeled. These Sturdy Brushed Aluminum EMECO Indoor Outdoor Bar Stools Are Very Comfortable With The Three Vertical Slat Bac...
Category

Late 20th Century American Mid-Century Modern Emeco

Materials

Aluminum

Italian modern Aluminum high bar stool Kong by Philippe Starck for Emeco, 2000s
By Philippe Starck, Emeco
Located in MIlano, IT
Italian modern Aluminum high bar stool Kong by Philippe Starck for Emeco, 2000s High bar stool mod. Kong entirely polished aluminum. The backrest is oval while the seat is rounded. T...
Category

Early 2000s Italian Modern Emeco

Materials

Aluminum

Emeco Broom Stacking Chair in White 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% reclaimed wood fiber that would normally be swept into the trash, “Imagine”, says Philippe Starck, “a guy who takes a humble broom and starts to clean the workshop and with this dust he makes new magic”. That’s why we call it Broom chair...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary American Modern Emeco

Materials

Plastic

Emeco Broom Counter Stool in White 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% reclaimed wood that would normally be swept into the trash, “Imagine”, says Philippe Starck, “a guy who takes a humble broom...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary American Modern Emeco

Materials

Aluminum

Emeco Hudson Armchair in Polished 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 111 Navy Counter Stool in Persimmon by Coca-Cola
By Emeco
Located in Hanover, PA
The 111 Navy Collection is a story of innovation, turning waste plastic into something that lasts. Each stool is made of 150 recycled PET bottles. Like the original 111 Navy chair, t...
Category

21st Century and Contemporary American Modern Emeco

Materials

Plastic

Browse all Furniture from Emeco
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Creators Similar to Emeco

More Emeco Designs
Navy Chair
Navy Chair
Average Price
$1,520
Number Available
34
Navy Chair
By Emeco
Materials
Aluminum, Metal
Styles
Modern
One of the world’s most recognizable chairs was originally designed by an engineer to be lightweight, fireproof, waterproof and strong enough to withstand a torpedo blast. If this sounds like the description of an industrial object and not furniture, it’s because that’s what the chair was meant to be. That engineer was Wilton C. Dinges (1916–74), and in 1944, in conjunction with experts from the Aluminum Company of America, he built a chair made of aluminum in response to the U.S. Navy’s call...
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Emeco furniture for sale on 1stDibs.

Emeco furniture are available for sale on 1stDibs. These distinctive items are frequently made of metal and are designed with extraordinary care. There are many options to choose from in our collection of Emeco furniture, although gray editions of this piece are particularly popular. We have 8 vintage editions of these items in-stock, while there is 749 modern edition to choose from as well. Many of the original furniture by Emeco were created in the modern style in north america during the 21st century and contemporary. If you’re looking for additional options, many customers also consider furniture by Jasper Morrison, Adrian Van Hooydonk, and Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby. Prices for Emeco furniture can differ depending upon size, time period and other attributes — on 1stDibs, these items begin at $330 and can go as high as $12,500, while a piece like these, on average, fetch $1,144.

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