If there was one discernable micro-trend at this year’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair, it was that mundane household cleaning tool known as the broom. Yep, the broom. Most recognizably, the broom’s familiar form appeared as a rubbernecking, remote-controlled LED floor lamp from Latvian designer Peteris Zilbers called the MoodBroom. Says Zilbers of the design: “The Moodbroom lamp plays with function shift in everyday objects, and engages users in a game that alters perception of a common item.”
A touch more subtle in the broom
closet department is the latest collaboration between French design wizard Philippe Starck and Hanover, Pa.-based handcrafted chair manufacturer, Emeco. The new design, Broom, finds Emeco continuing to expand beyond the company’s preferred material of recycled aluminum. Emeco (short for Electric Machine and Equipment Company) first started working with aluminum when commissioned to craft stronger-than-steel, built-to-last chairs for U.S. Navy warships during World War II.
Since then, Emeco has released several stylish aluminum seats, some, such as the Hudson Chair, in collaboration with Starck. Fast-forward to 2010 when Emeco teamed up with Coca-Cola to launch the 111 Navy Chair, an inventive remake of the iconic 106 Navy Chair that’s made with recycled soda bottles (111 of them, to be exact) in lieu of 80 percent recycled aluminum.
For Broom — the super-sustainable seat made its international debut at the Milan Furniture Fair before making its first North American appearance this week at ICFF — always-eco-conscious Emeco has decidedly stepped it up a notch in the use of recycled materials as part of the company's ongoing crusade to reach zero-waste-dom. The American-manufactured chair is made from a total of 90 percent pre-consumer/post-industrial recycled materials, primarily reclaimed polypropylene (75 percent) and sawdust (15 percent) — factory scraps from lumber operations and industrial plastic plants, essentially. Emeco believes the environmental impact of the new polypropylene/wood fiber composite material called WPP to be three-fold: less energy, less waste, and less carbon.
So where exactly do brooms come in? Explains Starck: "Imagine, there is a humble guy who takes a humble broom and starts to clean the workshop and with this dust of nothing with this he makes new magic. That's why we call it Broom.” Stack continues: “The elegance of the minimum comes from the intelligence of the nothing. Mies Van der Rohe said ‘Less is more,’ but with the Broom chair we can say ‘less and more.’ Because we choose to make less — less ‘style,’ less ‘design,’ less material, less energy — finally we have more.”
Stackable and suitable for indoor or outdoor use, Broom will be available in a range of colors including yellow, orange, dark grey, green, white, and natural (I’m partial to the yellow) when released at the end of June. In terms of a price point, I hear it will retail in the not-too-shabby-for-Starck under $200 range. And most importantly, it’s a pretty darn comfy seat. I took a seat in one after a long day of traversing ICFF and was hesitant to get back up. My butt and back found it most agreeable. Texturally, Broom does maintain a slight bit of post-industrial grit as you can actually see and feel the flecks of sawdust.
Lovely stuff. I’m curious to see how Broom fares when released. Will it, ahem, sweep the wildly popular 111 Navy?