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Published by Sugar & Cream, Wednesday 26 June 2024

Images and video  courtesy of Emeco

Exhibited at Triennale Milano for Milan Design Week

In 1944, in the throes of WWII, the U.S. Navy needed a place to sit. They commissioned a chair that was lightweight, non-corrosive, fire-resistant, and, allegedly, torpedo-proof. Emeco took on the challenge, and the now iconic 1006 Navy Chair was born. Handcrafted from 80% salvaged aluminum using a unique 77-step process, it was tested to last 150 years.

2024 marks 80 years since Emeco’s purposeful beginnings. It has been a truly remarkable journey, which has seen this American furniture maker from Hanover, Pennsylvania, transform from a government and military supplier to a highly regarded international manufacturer of design furniture, boasting collaborations with many of the world’s leading architects and designers.

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What started as a wartime necessity turned into an ongoing direction; to this day, the 1006 Navy Chair, is handcrafted from scrap aluminum at the Emeco factory in Hanover, PA. With sustainability at its core since 1944, the company has also pioneered the use of several other waste streams, including recycled PET, reclaimed barn wood, and eco-concrete. Emeco was one of the first furniture manufacturers to measure and declare the carbon footprint of its products. The idea of ‘sitting lightly on the planet’, using waste material and environmentally responsible resources to create and build simple, timeless, durable furniture is deeply ingrained in Emeco’s heritage. A heritage that the family-owned company will continue to draw on and add to, ensuring Emeco will continue to make waves the Navy chair could never have imagined.

Gregg and Jaye Buchbinder

As part of its 80th celebrations, Emeco’s journey will be on exhibition at Triennale Milano, one of the world’s leading cultural institutions, located in the center of Milan, during Milan Design Week, April 15-21. “Emeco to Emeco”, with exhibition design by renowned designer and long-time Emeco collaborator Jasper Morrison, celebrates the transformative power of design, tracing Emeco’s origins and story, and the designs that have helped make the company what it is today; designs that embody Emeco’s enduring commitment to handcraft, longevity and smart use of resources.

Emeco is a rather unique company with its roots in the manufacture of lightweight aluminum chairs for US submarines and battleships. The Emeco family you see today is both inspired by and descended from a single chair for the US Navy in 1944. The exhibition takes place on the 80th Anniversary of the company and explores the transformation of the company from a supplier to the military to one of the most coherent brand identities in the design world.” – Jasper Morrison –

“I grew up in California, dreaming about opening a surf shop. When I first set foot in Emeco in 1998, I found a big, old factory with leaks in the roof and a handful of craftsmen still making aluminum chairs using a very well-thought-out process from the 1940s. I felt the company and its products had been silently playing a utilitarian but important role in our history. Emeco had soul, and as humble as the chairs looked, each of them was crafted like a piece of jewelry. I knew then that a new journey was beginning for me and Emeco. I never thought of the surf shop after that. But I could never have imagined that our work would one day be shown at Triennale Milano! The chair makers out of Hanover, PA, have sure come a long way.” Gregg Buchbinder, Owner, Emeco ­-

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