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Tuesday
May282013

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