Features

Not Just a Chair. A Political Statement.

Emeco Broom Chair

The Broom Chair is Emeco’s latest collaboration with Philippe Starck. This chair is just another example of the ingenuity that can be found throughout the entire Emeco line. The innovative process of introducing a new chair material composite began in 2001 with a “flash of insight and imagination” from Philippe Starck. This groundbreaking new material is simply a combination of reclaimed polypropylene, and discarded wood fiber. In the short film, Broom by Eames Demetrios, Starck explains, ”Imagine, there is a humble guy who takes a humble broom and starts to clean the workshop and the dust of nothing, with this he makes new magic. That’s why we call it Broom.” In the same film, Emeco CEO Gregg Buchbinder, remembers Starck demonstrating the simple task of sweeping up discarded sawdust. “Starck amazed us with his sweeping! He was a perfectionist, true to character, and was determined to methodically sweep up every bit of the sawdust we had dumped on the floor. Like Starck I am also a perfectionist and my mind never stops sweeping over the details of our work.” Both Starck and Buchbinder believe that Broom is not just a chair, but also a political statement. Buchbinder clarifies, “Only 1% of all industrially produced products made in the United States last over 6 months. We are trashing our planet. Emeco believes that Broom sends a strong message to designers, manufacturers, and consumers– respect the planet and use less energy, less waste, less carbon. Less = More.”

Timeless and innovative designs such as Broom are a direct result of skilled craftsmanship, and collaborations with some of the most iconic architects and designers in the world. Some additional examples of these partnerships include: Frank Gehry with the Superlight, Andreé Putman with the Morgans Chair, and Ettore Sottsass with the Nine-0 Collection. Buchbinder fondly recalls, “One of my favorite memories, was working with Ettore Sottsass at the age of 90 with tears in his eyes when we finally captured the arm detail on the Nine-0 chair he envisioned.” Another huge collaboration for Emeco was with Coca-Cola. By upcycling 111 used Coca-Cola bottles, Emeco was able to re-launch the classic Navy chair, also known as the 111 Navy Chair.
The Electrical Machine and Equipment Company, more commonly known as Emeco, was not always known so well in the design community. Founded in 1944 by Wilton Carlyle Dinges, this Hanover, PA based company was commissioned by the United States Navy during World War II to create a seaworthy, lightweight and durable chair to be used on warships and submarines. This contract resulted in the 1006 Navy Chair (pronounced ten-o-six). Orders for the 1006 continued until the end of the Cold War, at which time, the size of the US military began to decrease, as did Emeco’s sales. The company was failing, struggling financially. However, despite the grim prognosis, Gregg Buchbinder saw hope, and in1998, he made the risky decision to purchase Emeco. “Craftsmanship, design and history – that’s what I saw in Emeco. Working with beautiful materials and innovative designers to create surprise and delight – making chairs you never want to throw away – that’s my dream for Emeco,” said Gregg Buchbinder.

Around the same time, Buchbinder noticed that designers such as Philippe Starck, Terence Conran, and even Giorgio Armani, were placing orders for the 1006 chair. It was then that he decided to reposition the company and focus more on architects, designers, and retailers. Buchbinder stated, “I chose Emeco because I saw that famous designers – Starck and Sottsass at the beginning, were using Emeco chairs in their installations, and I knew they saw something special in Emeco.” He set out to introduce this new world to Emeco, and after many closed doors, he was presented with a golden opportunity to meet Philippe Starck. Since then, Starck and Buchbinder have collaborated on several Emeco product series, including the Hudson, Heritage, Kong, Icon, Emeco series, and the most recent release, Broom. “Starck is a real genius. I have to be totally prepared and on my “A” game. He works very, very fast and remembers everything – every conversation, every prototype, and every detail. Starck continues to amaze me each time we meet…He is absolutely brilliant!” describes Buchbinder.

Emeco has accomplished many things since Buchbinder purchased it in 1998, including actively working in 41 countries and growing, having had chairs accepted into the permanent collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the 20-06 Chair in the Smithsonian addition in Washington D.C., having been awarded a Spark Design Award, a Baden-Württemberg International Design Award, and the GOOD design award several times, and this is just the beginning. Buchbinder plans to continue the company’s campaign to reach zero-waste, and to find new ways to take waste material and upcycle it into quality long lasting chairs. When asked what is next for Emeco, Buchbinder revealed, “ I asked my daughter when she was fifteen, when she would be ready to take over Emeco. She said, ‘…after I save the world.’ Next for me, is to get my daughter to join Emeco, and to save the world!”

Visit www.naturalchildworld.com and check out Broom – A Film by Eames Demetrios