At Salone: Andrée Putnam and Emeco Collaborate on the “Little Black Dress” of Chairs

In her 6″ stilettos, “She told me she wanted to do with the Emeco chair what her friend Coco Chanel did with the ‘little black dress’ – create a simple, smart, sexy chair that never goes out of style,”  said Greg Buchbinder, Emeco’s chairman.  Designers and design enthusiasts are likely familiar with Emeco for its all-aluminum chairs; the company was founded in 1944 to make them for the US Navy. 

Morgans Chair. Designed by Andrée Putman for Emeco.

Since 1998, when Buchbinder purchased the company, Emeco has been collaborating with renowned designers to expand on the company’s base and produce new versions of their classic Navy chair.  Andrée Putman’s Morgans Chair is the latest product of these collaborations, an exclusively editioned chair for the Morgans Hotel. The designer describes her most successful projects as “the perfect balance between discipline and revolt.” She is credited with the inventing the boutique hotel for Ian Schrager with Morgans Hotel in New York, the minimalist sanctuary which opened in 1984 (followed by Wasserturm in Cologne and Pershing Hall in Paris.) From a champagne cooler for Veuve Clicquot to her collaboration with Louis Vuitton on the legendary steamer bag, from movie sets to private residences, Putnam’s work is varied and impressive.



When Morgans opened in 1984, Robert Mallet-Stevens “simple, honest chair,” designed in 1928, was finally introduced to New York.  “The three steel bands that created the back of the chair would become a modernist icon, as Morgans would become the template for boutique hotels,” according to popular design blog Dezeen.  The Morgans chair fuses Mallet-Stevens’ 1928 classic chair design with Emeco’s 1006 Navy chair to create a remarkably simple yet sexy seating design.  It reuses the shape and curvature of Mallet-Steven’s chair but eliminates the three-bands in favor of a solid back while introducing the squared edges and molded aluminum seat of the Navy chair.   It maintains a classic aesthetic, fitting with Putman’s intent to create a timeless design.  Emeco’s reputation for lightweight strength is not lost in this design; weighing only 7 lbs, the chair was tested to carry over 1000 lbs.  Although I can’t imagine when this load-bearing strength might ever be necessary, it does attest to its strength and durability.  300 of this new chair, in high gloss white, now equip the Morgans guest rooms. 

Although the Morgan chair is only available to guests of the hotel, you can turns your loving gaze towards a few of Emeco’s other noteworthy pieces: Emeco’s Nine-O collection designed by the late Italian design heavyweight Ettore Sottsass is a striking reinvention of another company classic, the Navy Chair. For more Emeco information and sales inquiries, Dan Fogelson is your man, dan (at) or (401) 935.7088.

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