Courtesy Emeco
Courtesy Emeco

Jasper Morrison’s Latest Seats for Emeco Radiate a Warm, Tactile Presence

The made-to-last Utility collection features chairs, armchairs, and stools with steam-bent, hand-shaped wood seats and backs.
By Kathryn O’Shea-Evans
June 21, 2022
2 minute read

Among all the significant seats in the design canon, few are as recognizable as Emeco’s 1006 Navy Chair, which was designed in 1944, in the midst of World War II, for the U.S. Navy. Resourcefully made from scrap aluminum and built by hand in Emeco’s Hanover, Pennsylvania, factory, the chairs have since become enduring symbols of industriousness and perseverance, and of timeless design intended to last a lifetime.

Emeco’s latest seating collection, Utility, was revealed last week during Chicago’s NeoCon design trade show and embraces the Navy Chair’s square section tube—and adds a warm, tactile twist. Created by British designer Jasper Morrison, who’s known for his careful attention to how objects can serve the spaces they inhabit and those who use them, the line consists of pared-down chairs, armchairs, and stools. Each comes in two heights and is enhanced with seats and backs of steam-bent, hand-shaped hardwood, sourced from Pennsylvania’s Appalachian forests.

The furniture’s recycled aluminum frames offer an equal level of strength as Navy Chair, and are handcrafted in Hanover using the same 77-step process as the original seat. In addition to the line’s two frame finishes—Emeco’s signature hand-brushed, clear-anodized one or powder-coated black—there are also five wood finishes, including an acetylated pine option that can be used outdoors.

While Morrison has designed other pieces for Emeco, such as the recycled-waste plastic 1-Inch chair and the Alfi chair, with textured seats made from reclaimed polypropylene mixed with wood fiber, Utility stands apart with its natural materials and quiet, elegant presence. “The Utility chair is about investigating possible chair languages within Emeco’s range,” he said in a statement, noting that the versatile seat is equally suited for cafés, schools, and home kitchens. Used in any context, Utility lives up to its name, providing purposeful functionality and robust construction for generations to come.