How to design a chair that can survive an 8-story fall

The latest episode of 99 Percent Invisible is about the the 1940 Emeco 10-06 Navy Chair, made of bent aluminum and strong enough to withstand a torpedo blast.

The chair was made to be relatively utilitarian, with an arched top and three slats coming down the back to meet a crossbar. A curved “butt divot” is one of its most distinctive elements.

To show off the durability of his creation, Dinges took it up to the eighth floor of a hotel in Chicago, where the Navy was examining submissions, and threw it out of the window. It bounced, but didn’t bend or break.

And so the Navy gave its inventor the contract, and he, in turn, opened a factory and called his new business the Electrical Machine and Equipment Company, or: Emeco.

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