When this chair was launched at the Milan Furniture Show, one commentator declared it a 'stylishly understated showstopper'. And while the 1940s-style 111 Navy Chair is a design icon in its own right, what really made an impact was the material: it’s made of 111 recycled Coke bottles.
The chair came about as part of our partnership with US-based Emeco (Electrical Machine and Equipment Company). Emeco was founded in 1944 to supply a U.S Navy contract for a light, durable chair to be used on ships and bases. They are as committed as we are to recycling and reducing waste. So, we asked them to make a chair using recycled PET plastic from our bottles. We estimated that the chairs would reuse the PET from about three million plastic bottles a year.
Emeco are used to working with aluminium, so they had to deal with some new challenges. “Ninety-five percent of all aluminum ever refined is still in use,” says Gregg Buchbinder, Emeco’s chairman. “That’s because it’s expensive to refine aluminum and inexpensive to recycle it.” But PET is different. It is simple to use PET to make products like t-shirts and carpeting, but difficult to upcycle it into a structural chair.”
The impact of this project is huge, as Gregg says: "It’s a lot of bottles and a lot of chairs. We've turned something many people throw away into something you can keep for a long, long time."