Bearing an Imprint

Even with wooden legs, Michael Young’s design for Emeco unmistakably recalls the company’s trademark Navy chair.

Porsche has the 911. Victorinox has the Swiss Army knife. And Emeco has the 1006 Navy chair. First manufactured in 1944 for American submarines, the all-aluminum seat has defined and driven the brand ever since. Over the years, the company has added other chairs to its repertoire—by the likes of Philippe Starck, Frank Gehry, and Ettore Sottsass—but each has borne the unmistakable imprimatur of its seaworthy forefather. The latest iteration, by the British-born, Hong Kong–based designer Michael Young, is no exception: it simultaneously updates and pays homage to a classic. “Every brand has a distinctive design language,” says Magnus Breitling, Emeco’s director of product management, “but every product also speaks for itself. That is what was achieved with this chair.”

The new Lancaster chair may speak the Navy’s language, but it also expands Emeco’s vocabulary. For the first time in its history, the Pennsylvania company has set its signature contoured aluminum seat on ash-wood legs, produced by an Amish factory in Lancaster County (hence, the chair’s name). To hold the metal and wood pieces together, Young and Breitling’s team collaborated on a seamless interlocking system. But despite the chair’s contemporary innovations, the company’s industrial heritage—“the passion of engineering and the love of the machine,” according to Young—shines through. “This is what gives this chair its life and soul,” he says. Here Breitling and Young take us on a tour of the Lancaster, which debuts this month (along with a matching table) in Milan.

Click the images to read Breitling and Young’s comments on the design.

Recent Programs