Gregg Buchbinder on recycled aluminium
Gregg Buchbinder is the owner of US-based furniture manufacturer, Emeco. The Electrical Machine and Equipment Company was founded in 1944 and quickly created the 1006 chair for the US Navy. The piece, made out of recycled aluminium, has gone on to become a design classic but its story is far from straightforward.
By the time Buchbinder bought the firm from his father in 1998, its factory in Hanover, Pensylvania was on the edge of closure. He pumped its chest with a roster of high profile designers and pieces, starting with the Hudson chair by Philippe Starck in 2000.
Since then the company has gone on to work with the likes of Jean Nouvel, Frank Gehry, Michael Young, Jasper Morrison and Nendo to name just a few.
Not only that but Emeco has been innovative with its use of materials too. In 2010, the company launched a new version of the Navy Chair made from 111 recycled Coca Cola bottles, finding a new use for plastic that otherwise would have been destined for landfill. Further research into the material led it to produce the On & On chair, designed by Barber Osgerby, and so called because it can be recycled endlessly. This is a company with a singular vision – and that belongs to Gregg.
In this episode we talk about: manufacturing during a pandemic; the 77 processes (count ’em) needed to create the Navy chair; why it was made from recycled aluminium; working with the likes of Frank Gehry and Terence Conran; his relationship with his father; the shift in client base from the US military to up-market architects and designers; the effect Starck had on the company; collaborating with everyone from Coca Cola to the local Amish community; and taking copycats to court.
Find out more about Gregg Buchbinder and Emeco
The 1006 chair was originally designed for the US Navy in 1944. Latterly, it became a favourite of designers such such Terence Conran and Philippe Starck.
Some original drawings of the 1006. It was made from recycled aluminium for practical reasons – virgin materials were scarce during the Second World War.
Buchbinder bought Emeco in 1998 and asked Starck to come up with a new version of the chair. The Hudson was launched in 2000. Images courtesy of Emeco.