This month we’re highlighting *that Chair* that you’ve seen in every interrogation scene from CSI to Law & Order, and Futuristic Dystopias such as the Matrix and Battle Star Galactica.
Once someone points it out to you you’ll be seeing it everywhere.
It’s a pure metal, un-upholstered chair, most often found in prisons and police stations, privy to plenty of unpleasantness. Are you spotting the connection? If you want to create an unpleasant, cold and uncomfortable environment, design with cold hard materials. For everything else, there’s upholstery.
Putting aside this obviously universal truth, the 1006 (ten-oh-six) from Emeco is a fantastic example of the amount of design and production involved in a simple product. As a society we’re guilt of under estimating the work involved in every day objects, and the simpler they are, the more they go un-appreciated. More than just pieces of metal welded together, chairs like the 1006 are the result of a huge investment in Research and Design, then the creation of a fabrication plant and all many specialty machines and techniques developed specifically to produce that piece.
Commonly known as the Navy Chair, the 1006 arrived in 1944 as the solution to a Naval conundrum
Q.What’s light weight, functional and (relatively) comfortable, rust free and won’t weigh down our submarines?
A. An Aluminium chair you can bolt to the floor. Extruded, bent aluminium supporting a seat moulded to gently caress the cheeks of navymen while firmly cabled to the floor of their shared underwater home.
Produced by Emeco, the 1006 was result of a 77 step process, famously documented by Eames Demetrios – the grandson of Charles & Ray Eames. You can watch his short film, ’77 Steps’ on VIMEO.
The 1006 became a staple for government and military institutions, being hard wearing, cost effective and no-nonsense.
It wasn’t until the 90s that the 1006 began to gain some street cred among designers, becoming common in hospitality – both restaurants and hotels, it’s slick minimalism the metallic icing on a functional cake.
In 2000 The chair received a makeover from French Designer Philippe Starck, who used the form of the Navy chair as a base for his Hudson line, relaunching Emeco into the stratosphere, and rolling out their product to restaurants across the globe.
In 2010 Coca Cola and Emeco joined forces to create the 111 – An injection molded plastic replica of the original aluminium Navy chair. 60% of the chair is provided from 111 coca-cola bottles, along with fibreglass for structural integrity, and a good dose of colour pigment.
WHY WE LOVE THE 1006
It’s totes famous.
Just kidding. Totes is not a word. And more than famous, the 1006 a cracking example of good, functional design that lasts and lasts. Guaranteed, in fact, to last 150 years! Many of the originals from ’44 are still in use today – So perhaps we can attribute the re-designs in the early 2000s to a mid life crisis of sorts.
New versions include recycled aluminium content, and the whole process still happens by hand in a plant in Hanover, Pennsylvania, a credit to Starck, who chose to design a chair that could be produced ‘in house’. Starck noted at the launch of the Hudson, “The more you want the price to be low, the less there is human. This makes me not so comfortable to see people without jobs. You are obliged to think about that.”
HOW TO SPOT THE 1006
- The original Emeco 1006 chair is lightweight aluminium, weighing only 3.5kg.
- It’s a dining chair, not to be confused with the rest of his family – the 1002, 1011 arm chair and swivel varieties.
- a curved back with three vertical struts
- a slight curve on the back legs.
- Twin stretchers running side to side between chair leg rails.
- A moulded seat
Other variations on the 1006 family include swivel bases and partial or full upholstery;
IS IT A BARGAIN?
In Australia you can buy an EMECO Navy chair for $1000, PER CHAIR. It sounds like a lot, but let’s break it down.
Tests suggest it will last 150 years, which is 3 generations, roughly approx. $330 per chair for each generation. IKEA it ain’t, but it’s still competitive in it’s class, (That class being well made, considered design) and with triple the durability of many peers.
Put another way, $6.66/chair per year over its lifespan. BARGAIN.
If the lifespan argument doesn’t convince you, let’s look a the costsof bringing the 1006 to a store near you.
We can break that $1000 doen to $100 a day, as the fabled 77 step process takes 2 weeks, ten business days. That $100/day has to pay overheads on a factory, plant equipment and maintenance, materials and the salaries of the American workers with the skills and knowledge to produce them. Then the box, tape packing peanuts and seacabin voyage accross the great blue yonder. Definitely still a bargain.
Of course, the other, often un-discussed aspect of a ‘bargain’ should be whether or not you needed it in the first place. Are you, for instance, planning on taking a dystopian adventure in outer space and need to furnish your spaceship? Do you intend to interrogate obnoxious criminals in the near future, or, in the next 150 years?
But seriously, are you going to love it and cherish it and will it make you happy every day you see them hanging out in your dining room? Because if you’re not sure, even USD0.015/ day is too much to spend.
SOME THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
Be sure to do your due diligence! If you’re buying it for status an collector cred, there are a few things to check.
Provenance – can the seller prove it’s an original? Does it bear the hallmarks of an original (there are reports of 3 exposed welds left on the back of the originals to differentiate them from their Target and Matt Blatt knockoffs).
You can also avoid doing any research and simply buy new originals – check out the Emeco Website
Australians can buy the real deal through Cult Design
Comfort – Will you be comfortable for long dinner parties or periods at your desk without any form of upholstery. Emeco do produce upholstered variants, and felt seat pads for the originals, but you should never buy anything without giving it a test drive!
What are your thoughts? Would you have these guys to dinner?