Emeco......American + Aluminum = Design

It started with a material and a number, the material being aluminum and the number being 1006. In 1944, during WW/2, the government gave Emeco the task of creating a chair that could take on water, sailors, and salt. The material chosen was aluminum, due to the durability and lightweight factors. This, built for a lifetime, chair takes 77 steps to build and is done so by human hands the whole way.

I first met Gregg Buchbinder in May of 1998 during the ICFF in NYC. He walked up to me and asked me to sign a magazine, a magazine that featured me sitting in a 1006 chair! I have known Gregg since and gotta say that he is one of the best guys (and CEOs) that anyone could ever meet. It was during this same week that he connected with Starck, which turned into a new direction for Emeco in the form of The Hudson Chair, which launched in 2000. This relationship has resulted in several variations and collections via Starck over the years.

The above has also lead to who's who list of designers that Emeco has enlisted to execute their vision within the fabrication methods and materials (aluminum) used by the company. We here at MGS have a lot of respect for the end results and the company as a whole. As you can imagine, to keep production going in the United States by a company launched in the 1940's is not the easiest task. I can only imagine what would have happened to Emeco if Gregg hadn't gotten ahold of it. It could very well have gone under or had all of the production moved to another country. Bravo Emeco.

In 2004, Gregg met Frank Gehry while personally delivering 125 Hudson chairs that his office had ordered. This lead to the collaboration of the Superlight chair, which Gehry viewed as a skin of aluminum which fit onto a framework. The initial version of this chair was in production for a short time, as the movement of the chair became an issue. It was tweaked by Gehry and put back into production with a X base, while the first ones had sled-like legs.

2006 saw the launch of the 20-06 chair by Foster and Partners. Norman Foster's take is simple, lightweight, and good looking. It is a chair that could marry well with almost any space and/or application. Weighing in at 8 pounds, one has to try it to believe its true capacity.

Sottsass, an Italian design master and one of his last designs, the Nine-o chair. Sottsass owned a 1006 chair which, of course, was the inspiration for his chair series. This collection was launched at the 2008 Milan Furniture Fair just a few months after Mr. Sottsass passed away, at the age of 90.

2010 brought on some material changes for Emeco. One in the form of recycled plastic via Coca-Cola and the other in the form of ash wood pieces made by an Amish gentleman in Lancaster County, PA. - which is not too far from the Emeco factory.

The Coke chair is a familiar form, but is made of recycled plastic bottles, 111 of them to be exact. This number also became the name of the chair, a true contemporary of the forever iconic 1006 chair.

The Lancaster chair became a collaboration of Michael Young, a MGS favorite, and an Amish woodworker. This design calls for reclaimed ash legs produced by the woodworker that join forces with die cast aluminum pieces via the Emeco factory. There is also a table within this collection that helps expand upon the great material story.

Another MGS favorite, Christophe Pillet, took the aluminum to a new form in 2012. The result is the Sezz chair, which was initially imagined for the Sezz Hotel in St. Tropez, a project that Pillet was working on. The end result is a beautiful chair collection that makes one want to sit.

2013 brings yet another great collaboration with the German design dude, Konstatine Grcic. This collection was geared for the Herzog and de Meuron designed Parrish Art Museum - located on Long Island. It is a kit of parts joined together by a central connector that allows for the aluminum and wood to become one. The collection further expands with different forms, material choices, and aluminum finishes.

It is great to watch the story of Emeco unfold in the form of new design collaborations, new designs, and the use of some different materials. In the end, they all speak to the common goal of Emeco, which is to stay true to itself and the buying public. We look forward to seeing your New Chapters of design unfold as time ticks and I know Gregg does too!

Much more here = www.emeco.net



PUBLIC......Bikes, Design.......WORKS

PUBLIC bikes, based in San Francisco, is further broadening its boundries with the launch of PUBLIC WORKS and a project with 27 international designers. Public asked these designers to "interpret the concept of "public" with a vision to reclaim urban streets, sidewalks and spaces for walking, biking and other social purposes." The intial results have come in the form of posters and will be celebrated with a launch exhibition on Oct. 9th at California College of the Arts. 

Here are some MGS favorites right out of the gate......by John Bielenburg, Jennifer Morla, and Volume Inc.

And the designers included in this design project >

Design exhibition opening party info -

OCT. 9th / 6 to 8 pm 

California College of the Arts
350 Kansas Street (at 16th)
San Francisco, Ca.  

Free bike valet parking and a % of the the proceeds will be donated to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. The first 20 guests will receive a free PUBLIC WORKS book.

More info and RSVP info on their site - www.publicbikes.com 




We first became acquainted with this small company back in 2007, while meeting its founder and looking at the prototype for the Mute chair by Mike & Maaike. The founder, Derek Chen, jump started Council in 2006 when questioning the lack of American Design companies representing an array of international designers. As a huge proponent of American Design, for nearly 20 years, the clan at MGS has kept the finger on the pulse of Council. You too will find some interest in the content they are producing.

"Design aficionados rarely have any difficulty spotting Scandinavian design, Italian design, and American mid-century classics. But what is modern American design? We think we have found it in the way we curate our collection. The collection itself is a melting pot of pieces by designers from around the world. Council pieces are equally at home with American and European design classics, but we think they express a uniquely American point of view."

This kind of melting pot collection keeps things interesting and avoids monotony. This holds true for the stable of designers, use of materials, and overall aesthetic. And their commitment to making responsible production choices through materials and local production (San Francisco) is to be applauded.

Basik - a desk by Karim Rashid that does not look like it is by Karim Rashid, agree? This beauty of a small desk evokes the feeling of levitating wood that supported by a white tubular base. At 44" wide, it offers two drawers and wire management to keep the clean look as needed. The Careem chair in this pic is by Karim as well.

Twig - a newly launched pieced by San Francisco designer, Chad Wright. This mixed material chair combines human-made with nature for a light looking end result. It is offered in several variations including an outdoor version.....and it stacks.

Geo Dining Table - Designed by the internationally known Arik Levy / 2008. This MGS favorite takes one material (solid wood) and combines mixes it with some craftsmanship to end up with a modern table in form. The top view really tells the tale.

Drake chair - designed by One & Co. / 2009. This chairs bulldog stance assures the end user that it is not gonna budge when sat upon. A curvy creature that is made up of a welded metal frame and an array of of powder coated colors. An indoor version comes with thin seat cushions as an option.

Plank - an outdoor lounge chair designed by Eric Pfeiffer / 2012. Made up of weather treated pine planks and a powder coated steel frame, this simple beauty dips its toe into the crafted modern pool. An armed version adds some comfort and more details like the steel support that runs down and across the front of the chair. 

We look forward to seeing more from Council as time ticks and you can keep up on their happenings here at MGS.


Copper Clad Camping

This little structure is placed on a remote mountain ridge in the New South Wales region of Australia. Its surroundings include ancient dead trees, granite boulders, and a view that allows one to see many miles to the horizon line. 

The limited footprint is geared for one or two guests at a time, which helps keeps things intimate and clean up is a breeze. Copper is the exterior material on this building that also has sides that open to become roof-like pieces and close as needed for overall protection. 

The interior of this two story structure consists of a sleeping loft up top with a kitchen and hangout area down below. A sense of warmth is evoked by the recycled Eucalyptus wood that lines the interior. True warmth is created by a wood burning stove placed within the seating area. 

The kitchen consists of some simple shelving and a plumbed spout which grabs water from a roof system. A collection of back and red earthen and enameled ware help further define this zone. Where is the restroom you ask? It is a short walk away in another copper clad building, think modern outhouse. 

The south side of the building houses a water tank along with the winch system that raises and lowers the sides as needed. Did we say that this beauty was factory built off-site? Well, it was due to the desolate site location.  

We like everything about it......the view, the small footprint, the raising roof / wall protection system, the wood interior, the copper kitchen spout, the hardware store shut off valve for said spout, the water collection system, and the fact that is was built off site to be dropped in this perfectly chosen location.


Kijken!......Modern Dutch Craft

We have been following Jurgen Bey for the past fourteen years, starting with the Tree Trunk Bench and Kokon Furniture Series. He has kept our attention due to his ever-changing use of materials, innovation, tradition, and craft. His unique manner makes one look twice and study his endeavors more than most. Some of his work was and is produced by the incredible Dutch think tank known as Droog. In 2002, Studio Makkink and Bey was formed to further their craft of design. Their studio, located in an industrial building in Rotterdam, consists of a team that is hands on with backgrounds from different disciplines.,,

“The goal of our studio is to entice a new design culture by showing new alternatives through critical design. Analytical design is a fundament for a new culture in a city, public building or house.”

“The design process itself is elevated as a final product. The product continually adjusts itself to its current situation to be slotted into its designed context. All available expertise is used, such as a caring member of the community or a skilled craftsman. The result is a pertinent answer to the questions that lay hidden within every project.”

We embrace their view that a small project can progress into a larger one, and in turn, a larger one can spawn a series of smaller ones. M&B ask "Did the invention of the elevator give rise to the skyscraper or did the high-rise buildings dictate its existence?"

The tree trunk is the base while the classic looking chair backs, cast of bronze, turns this into an oversized bench for many. All one needs is the fallen tree; the backs are sold to the end user to create the piece as there is no reason to ship a tree trunk. This piece is a true combination of human-made and nature. Designed 1998 / Bey / Droog

The Kokon (cocoon) Series takes old furniture and disguises it with a synthetic skin that has elasticity. The morphing of several pieces to make one also takes this to another level. One know what is under the elastic skin, the separate pieces seem familiar, but to see them joined with a new skin give them a whole new identity. Designed 1999 / Bey / Droog

The Werkstandt Kabinett, a piece that can act as one of five things. A crate with cut outs, hinged doors, and graphics place upon a period writing desk. And is front of it is a chair top that has the look of resting on a base of wood scraps. Designed 2007 / M&B

Watch House Brinta is a small structure that was part of a small group show in the Netherlands. It was made of wood, straw, zip ties, and tie-down straps with an interior consisting of chair / desk and a blanket and pillow. Designed 2008/ M&B

The Kade Chair is a study in contrasting materials, colors, and where one focuses attention. In this case the focus is on the forever-famous Eames shell. The wood base / support allows one to swivel and use the table in a multi-functional manner. Variations of this idea translate into the Cheoungju series as well. Designed 2008 / M&B

Below are some other designs by this Studio......more to come from MGS about this collaborative....