111 Navy Chair

The 111 Navy Chair is an outcome of the very successful, albeit unusual, collaboration between two companies that at the first glance have nothing in common – The Electrical Machine and Equipment Company, a low-scale designer furniture manufacturer from Hanover, Pennsylvania and The Coca-Cola Company, a multibillion soft-beverage corporation known in every corner of the world. The two companies joined their forces in a creation process of the plastic descendant of the Emeco’s most well-known product – the iconic 1006 Navy Chair.

Lily Wright Category Curator
Last update: 25 April 2018
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History

Although the beginnings of the famous ten-O-six date back more than seven decades into the past, its plastic variation came about just a couple of years ago. The story began in 2006 when Coca-Cola started looking for the possible ways of reusing the plastic bottles used for packaging of its products. A significant role in the team-up process between the two companies was played by Paola Antonelli, the senior Curator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York who recommended Emeco as a potential partner because of its reputation of a company valuing sustainability and durability of its products, which was vital for the project aiming to help saving the natural environment by reducing the amount of waste.
Even though the main purpose of the venture may sound relatively straightforward - producing a chair from the recycled plastic bottles - it took nearly four years of research and testing, as well as required the involvement of the world’s largest chemical company - BASF – which helped to develop the injection molding technique fit to use with the plastic rescued from the landfills.
The ready chair, named 111 Navy Chair, had its world premiere at the Milan Furniture Fair in 2010.
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Design

While looking at the 111 Navy Chair its affinity becomes instantly apparent. The external appearance of the chair is identical to its famous ancestor - the 1006 Navy Chair, the design of which was forged in the heat of the World War II by Wilton C. Dinges in 1944 as an answer to the US Navy’s demand for lightweight, high-strength warships furniture. The main principle of the chair was to survive severe, salty environment of the US Navy vessels. The design of the chair was not about style or chic. Tt was about a purpose. It had to last. The simplistic, clean form, dictated predominantly by its function, is at the same time esthetic and elegant. The fact that the design of the chair has not been changed over the course of more than 70 years of its production is the irrefutable proof that the ten-O-six is a true icon of the American industrial design. The chair is made of 12 aluminum pieces, mostly bent profiles with rectangular cross-sections and filleted corners, welded together; serving as the main structural component of the chair. The sit pan is derriere-shaped in order to make the chair more comfortable. The external appearance of the chair was passed on its plastic descendant in unchanged form. Although the 111 Navy Chair looks the same as its sturdy ‘grandpa’, materials and the manufacturing process utilized for its production are fundamentally different. Instead of rolled and forged aluminum, the 111 Navy Chair is made from rPET (recycled polyethylene terephthalate) which constitutes 65% of the chair’s weight. The remaining 35% is the glass fiber added to improve the structural strength. The chair has a satin surface finish which makes the chair less susceptible to scratches. It is available in 6 different colors: Red, Grass Green, Snow, Flint Gray, Charcoal and Persimmon.
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Interesting facts

  • The enigmatic name of the 111 Navy Chair has an actual meaning. Each chair is made out of at least 111 recycled plastic bottles. With the current production rate, 3 million of the disposal 20oz plastic bottles are given a new life as a stylish, durable piece of furniture with a 5-year warranty period.

  • In order to convince the government officials to his design, Wilton C. Dinges dropped the prototype of the 1006 Navy Chair from the eighth floor of the hotel in which the negotiations took place. The chair survived the impact sustaining only minor surface scratches. Needless to say he got the deal.

  • The US Navy’s demand for the 1006 Navy Chair decreased dramatically soon after the war was over. Since there was no replacement market for the high-strength chairs, the company started leaning toward the bankruptcy. In the 1990’s the company was taken over by Gregg Buchbinder. At the same time Emeco started supplying small batches of chairs to the high-end customers such as Giorgio Armani or The Paramount – an eclectic and stylish New York hotel. Buchbinder noticed that emerging trend and set a new business course targeted on the designer furniture market niche. The Navy Chair, cladded in a shinier attire, was rediscovered by a multitude of notable designers such as Philippe Starck, Frank Gehry, Norman Foster, Jean Nouvel, Konstantin Grcic and BMW chief designer Adrian van Hooydonk, bringing the chair from ships to showrooms.

  • The 1006 Navy Chair has an impressive cinematic career, having starred in movies and TV series such as: I, Robot; The Big Lebowski; The Dark Knight; Avata; Righteous Kill; Mystic River; Watchman; Dexter and House M. D.

  • The chair’s relationship with Hollywood is not limited to numerous appearances in the movies. Rumor has it that the chair’s sit pan was modeled after a derriere of the 1940’s actress Betty Grable…

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