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McKinnon and Harris Drop a Sleek New Umpire Chair Just in Time for the US Open

In reimagining a classic tennis token, the Dr. Johnson Tennis Umpire Chair pays tribute to a sporting icon and honors the brand’s 30th anniversary.

Nurturing a generational passion for landscaping and respect for nature since 1991, McKinnon and Harris exercise their parental teachings of stellar craftsmanship and eco-consciousness through a rich portfolio of outdoor furniture. The company ethos, “Sublimis, Virtus, Sempiterna,” resonates with their designs that often emulate permanence and beauty. With a meticulous focus on process and production, the family-owned business reduces their environmental footprint by deploying a medley of aluminium-based products that are guaranteed to last a lifetime—a reputation that has earned the brand a place in many of the most extravagant estates, gardens, and yachts. Those attributes of timelessness and elegance feature prominently in its latest drop, the Umpire Chair.

In time for the US Open in Queens, New York, which runs through September 12, McKinnon and Harris is launching their take on the classic seat that draws inspiration from a sports hero based in the co-founders’ joint hometown of Lynchburg, Virginia. Coined the “godfather of Black tennis,” Dr. Robert Walter “Whirlwind” Johnson channeled his gracious sportsmanship and avid love for tennis into his trainees, two of which—Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson—graduated to alter the game’s history as the maiden African American Grand Slam champions. (Ashe’s name adorns the main stadium at the US Open.)

In addition to his memorialization in the Tennis Hall of Fame in 2009, Johnson’s color-barrier-breaking legacy is enshrined by a bronze nameplate that frames a redesigned laurel wreath, a symbol of elite tennis victors, on the namesake chair reserved for an official who exercises impartial judgement in the spirit of a fair and equal game. 

Manufactured at McKinnon and Harris’ studio in Richmond, Virginia, as part of its Heritage Collection, the Umpire Chair’s modernist build resembles the athletic physique of a tennis player with a lean structure and calculated simplicity. Formulated with its signature high-performance aluminium glazed with an electrical technology to avoid long-term corrosion—a technique also used to seal submarines and yachts—it’s fortified with an industrial-grade durability. Lined with outdoor fabrics and teak accents, the contemporary form is designed to function as an actual umpire chair, a striking decor object, and a lofty emblem of tennis history and racial equity. 

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