Emeco originally built the chair for US government hospitals in 1951. The discovery on eBay of the original chair prompted Emeco CEO Gregg Buchbinder to approach DesignworksUSA and Adrian van Hooydonk to redefine and reinterpret the classic aluminum design for a new era.
Adrian van Hooydonk is currently the director of the BMW car design studio in Munich, Germany, and has served as President of BMW Group DesignworksUSA.
The forty year old Netherlands-born van Hooydonk was responsible for the design of the exterior of a number of cars, including the Mini ACV30 concept car shown in Monte Carlo in 1997 and at the Museum of Modern Art in 1999.
“I found it extremely rewarding to work closely with Emeco on the design of the new 1951,” said Mr van Hooydonk.
“Lines and surfaces were discussed at length, as well as the stance of the 1951, which is a lot more dynamic than the original. The use of new materials other than aluminum will allow customers to add color to their Emeco.
"As in good car-design, these added functional elements now come in a clean, simple and dynamic look that will appeal to customers on not just a physical and intellectual level, but an emotional level as well.”
The 1951 is the first Emeco product that combines new materials for the seat and back – technically molded ABS plastic – with classic aluminum construction.
The brushed/anodized aluminum frame supports the generous ABS plastic seat and back and is available in five standard colors. The redesigned 1951 chair joins award-winning work by Philippe Starck and Frank Gehry.
According to Buchbinder, Emeco appreciated the straightforwardness of the 50s’ original, but agreed that it needed reinterpretation and a fresher, more contemporary look.
“DesignworksUSA and Adrian had to the expertise for the challenge,” he said.
“Maintaining Emeco’s DNA, they created a sleek interpretation of the 1951 piece that we believe will appeal to all lovers of classic design.”
The chairs and stools carry Emeco’s lifetime guarantee and are made in America at the Hanover Pennsylvania facility. Their debut at the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan, Italy, the premiere international trade show featuring the top contenders in home design and furnishings, represented the first time they were shown to the public.
Emeco was founded in 1944 to make all-aluminum chairs for the US Navy. In 1998, Buchbinder purchased the company and began a friendship with the renowned French architect, Philippe Starck, creating a series of products that united Emeco’s historic manufacturing capabilities with Starck’s classic designs for a new century.
In 2000, Starck’s Hudson chair for Emeco won the Good Design Award and was inducted into the permanent design collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In 2004, Emeco collaborated with the American architect Frank Gehry on Superlight, a chair that utilises aluminum’s ability to be both strong and flexible.
Gehry’s chair won another Good Design award in 2004 and was included in collections at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC and the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich.
Emeco has made over one million navy chairs since 1944, and now sells its aluminum furniture in twenty-nine countries.