The prototype R18 Ultra Chair (photo courtesy of Tom Vack).
You’ve got to give a tip of the hat to luxury car brands. In their race to differentiate themselves and each new model, they’ve continued to experiment with different platforms and media, from BMW’s shortform films
to Aston Martin’s art collection
’s latest gambit—a chair made by the Munich- and Stockholm-based design duo of Reed Kram and Clemens Weisshaar
—plays upon the auto manufacturer’s interest in products and technology. Dubbed the R18 Ultra (after Audi’s Le Mans-winning racecar), the seat will have its shape crowdsourced from users at next week’s Milan’s Salone Internazionale del Mobile
. The chair’s final form will be presented to the public in December 2012 at collectors’ fair Design Miami.
The many sensors on the R18 Ultra prototype.
The R18 Ultra prototype chair comprises three main components: a carbon composite seat, a carbon-rubber composite backrest, and aluminum alloy legs. During the Salone, Audi and the designers will set up the chair in a testing booth in the courtyard of the city’s Palazzo Clerici and invite visitors to sit on it. Each user’s unique physical impact on the seat will be registered in realtime via industrial sensors integrated into the chair; the results will be displayed via a multi-colored simulation on a wall inside the booth. At the end of the week, Kram and Weisshaar will study the gathered data and optimize the final product accordingly, shedding every excess gram of weight.
A simulation of the Milan installation
The experiment, claims Audi, will elucidate Ultra (the car’s) principles of “state-of-the-art lightweight construction, technology, and design…[beginning] with the raw materials sourced for production all the way through various manufacturing stages.” Fair enough, but it seems like an awfully esoteric way to show off the auto’s gee-wizz advances.
The inspiration: the R18 Ultra race car.