The Alfi chair is the product of a 2015 collaboration between British furniture-maker Jasper Morrison and American manufacturer Emeco. The chair’s simplicity expresses Morrison’s concept of “Super Normal” design, whereby objects are significant because of their everyday usefulness. The chair’s sturdy stance is in line with Emeco’s history as a manufacturer that prides itself in producing durable furnishings that last a lifetime. The company’s first products drew on the ability of local craftsmen and used scrap aluminum to create chairs, tables, and lockers for the American government. Emeco is most famous for their collaboration with Alcoa experts on the 1006 Navy Chair made of recycled aluminum that has been used on Navy vessels since 1944. Their products are made to be timeless, simple, comfortable, and strong, and use carefully chosen materials. In order to make products that fit these ideals, Emeco handcrafts items that will last generations, which is how they define “sustainability.”
A fine example of Emeco’s commitment to environmentally intelligent solutions, the Alfi seat and back, made in Vermont, are formed out of 100% reclaimed post-industrial waste, using 92.5 per cent polypropylene combined with 7.5 per cent wood fibre. Wood polymers are composites made from reclaimed industrial polypropylene waste collected from the plastic manufacturing industry and reclaimed wood fiber, sawdust, or shavings from the lumber industry. The legs, made from responsibly harvested ash wood, are formed by Amish craftsmen in the Lancaster, Pennsylvania area near the Emeco headquarters. The chair boasts a simple and smooth silhouette with an elliptical hole in the back of the seat that is designed to aid carrying and moving. This chair’s beautiful pragmatism and accessibility, in terms of both design and cost, meet the needs of contemporary living in a desirable way.
The Alfi Chair is included in Making | Breaking: New Arrivals, on view through October 29th.
Emily Orr is Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary American Design at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum