written by:
April 16, 2010

I've been lucky enough to visit Emeco's Pennsylvania factory where their iconic chairs are made by hand. It was a religious experience for me, a person with a sick chair fetish. I've also been lucky enough to befriend Gregg Buchbinder, Emeco's Chairman and the man responsible for the brand's reinvention. This week in Milan as Emeco debuts the 111 Navy Chair, a take on the classic Navy Chair but made with 111 recycled Coca-Cola bottle, I tracked Gregg down and asked him a few questions about Emeco, working with a brand as big as Coke, and his love affair with Philippe Starck.

111 navy chairs silver red

The 111 Navy Chair fits into the Emeco story perfectly. Who had the idea first, you or Coke?
Coke had the idea of producing something significant using discarded RPET plastic bottles. Coke had a short list of design companies and designers for consideration.
Are the chairs made in your Pennsylvania factory?
The 111 Navy chair is injected molded, which is not a process done at the Emeco factory. Because this is a project intended to have the least impact on the environment, we selected an injection molder close to the RPET recycling center.
Collaboration is nothing new to Emeco as Philippe Starck, Frank Gehry, and Ettore Sottsass have all designed chairs for you. But I don't think you've collaborated with a brand before, and certainly nothing as massive as Coca-Cola. What is the difference in working with them as opposed to an individual designer?
A collaboration with individual designers or a huge company like Coca-Cola is way different. We work very closely with every designer who is designing a chair for us. We eat with them, we visit their homes, we meet their families, we travel with them, we hang out and have fun with them… we fall in love and chairs are conceived. What we love about working with Coca-Cola is the opportunity to help make the world a better place. Coca-Cola has the size, financial wherewithal, and voice to be heard all around the world. They have given us the support to make a very high quality iconic chair out of garbage, something we believe people will love and keep for a long time. It is our hope that the 111 Navy Chair becomes the poster child for good design-design that is focused on life cycle not lifestyle.
I've heard that the butt print on the Navy chair is Betty Grable’s. Is this true? And does the new chair use Ms. Grable's behind too?
Back in the 1940’s when Emeco was making chairs for Navy Ships and Submarines the men were out at sea for long periods of time. Betty Grable’s bottom was probably a great fantasy for most of the men. The new 111 Navy Chair is an identical clone using a new material.

111 navy chairs coke bottles

Most Emeco products, though available in colors, are usually seen in brushed or polished aluminum. For this project, that was not an option. How were the colors chosen?
The colors and finish were of major importance to us. We were fortunate to be able to work with one of the top color and finish experts in the country, Laura Guido Clark. She researched everything and created a palette of earth inspired colors for this collection.
Like the Aluminum Navy chair, can this new chair be thrown from a window?
No chair in the world is as indestructible as the Emeco 1006 Navy Chair. Our goal for the 111 Navy Chair was to make the strongest RPET chair on the planet.
111 navy chair closeup

You're launching the chair in Milan and then in NYC at the design shows. When will the general public get a chance to have seat?
Design Within Reach will begin retail sales the middle of May. Shipments will start the first week in June.
I must admit I am a giant Emeco fan and I adore almost everything in your collection. So I know how hard this question is, but, if you had to choose, what is your favorite chair in the Emeco catalog?
This is like asking a parent who is their favorite child…I love all my children equally.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

45 dva 2270 persp1 cmyk 0
The prospect of retirement doesn’t just signal the end of a career; it offers the chance to recalibrate and re-prioritize in life.
July 25, 2016
18
You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
angular
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016