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The iconic Emeco Navy Chair gets a plastic facelift

May 18, 2010

image via Design Within Reach

Emeco Navy Chairs are known for their durability and longevity as much as their looks. First introduced in 1944 on navy ships and submarines, they are designed in a 77-step process with an expected lifespan of over 150 years. They are, in essence, the opposite of IKEA.

Emeco has historically used aluminum in their classic designs (80% is recycled aluminum versus virgin). They have recently partnered with Coca-Cola to use recycled plastic Coke bottles to construct the chair in an effort to “…alter consumer behavior by illustrating the value of rPET with beautifully designed and everyday products – ultimately encouraging more recycling.”

Each chair uses 111 20-oz plastic Coke bottles, mixed with glass fiber for strength. And unlike most plastic surfaces, these are scratch-resistent and are said to have a “velvety” feel. Emeco says the potential exists to use 3 million bottles a year in their production. Three million less plastic bottles floating around the landfills, streets and oceans sounds good to me.

I think this is a great collaboration. We have to find a use for all the plastic in the world and we need promote recycling (I heard that in the US we only recycle 20% of our bottles?!). If we can learn how to make structurally-sound, aesthetically pleasing objects out of our waste, we are heading in the right direction.

I’m not necessary endorsing Coca-Cola as great for the environment, but they are a huge corporation with an incredible amount of power. With this power, they can create change. Hopefully, this project might just encourage us to think about everyday objects in our lives, and how they can be designed for sustainability.

via design fetish

Prototypes appeared at the Milan Furniture Fair a month ago, and Design Within Reach is beginning sales in the US now. What do you think of these chairs — do you own an aluminum version? Would you buy the plastic? Which color? I’m partial to the red.

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