Audi takes a seat – and turns it into the R18 ultra chair
Dec 21, 2012
Lightweight construction technology is embraced in the future of furniture
- Pioneering Audi R18 Ultra Chair unveiled at Design Miami/, developed using the same technology employed in Audi racing cars
- Made from carbon fibre, carbon and high-strength sheet aluminium, it weighs just 2.2kgs
- Digital designers Clemens Weisshaar and Reed Kram worked in collaboration with Audi engineers to develop the prototype
The seemingly humble household chair has just undergone a Vorsprung durch Technik makeover inspired by the Audi sports prototype that competed in the Le Mans 24-hour race this year, resulting in a tremendous 1-2-3 finish. The visually stunning R18 Ultra Chair was revealed earlier this month at the prestigious Design Miami/ show to a global audience.
Masterminded by designers Clemens Weisshaar and Reed Kram, and developed using the most efficient and sustainable processes, the R18 Ultra Chair is made from a mix of carbon fibre, carbon and high-strength sheet aluminium. This combination guarantees maximum stability and comfort with minimum consumption of materials, and also ensures that the chair is almost feather-light to lift.
The striking chair appeared first in prototype form at the Milan Furniture Fair in April this year, where it was fitted with an array of sensors capable of collecting data on the forces at play whenever the chair was used. Some 1,500 testers took the opportunity to try it out, and in the process informed the evolution of its design. In conjunction with engineers at the Audi Lightweight Construction Centre, the designers used the data to optimise their prototype, resulting in a finished product which embodies the principles of Audi ultra lightweight construction – through the intelligent deployment of advanced materials, high strength and exceptionally low weight have been achieved – in this case a total weight of just 2.2 kilograms.
Dr. Karl Durst, an engineer in fibre-reinforced composites at the Audi Lightweight Construction Centre, explains the finished product: “We combine the strengths of the materials in such a way that their weaknesses are no longer important. This efficiency is the focus of our ultra lightweight construction principle.”
The R18 Ultra Chair is the design duo’s second project for Audi after the widely acclaimed, award-winning installation OUTRACE on London’s Trafalgar Square in 2010. Described as ‘the vanguard of the next generation of digital designers’, permanent collections display the work of Weisshaar and Kram at the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Centre Pompidou, Paris.
Audi has been the exclusive automotive partner of Design Miami/, the most influential international design forum, since 2006 and has a sense of obligation to design and technology in equal measure. In recent years, the brand with the four rings has commissioned installations by international designers and architects such as Tom Dixon, Moritz Waldemeyer, Mirko Borsche and Bjarke Ingels, and is committed to promoting design culture and research.