The chair is made from carbon fiber, carbon and high-strength sheet aluminum and was fine-tuned using data obtained from an interactive installation that was trialed by over 1,500 testers, plus the know-how of Audi lightweight engineers.
The result is sturdier, more comfortable and one kilogram (2.20 lbs) lighter.
It was designed by Clemens Weisshaar and Reed Kram, who worked in cooperation with the lightweight specialists at Audi, had the goal of achieving maximum stability and comfort with minimum consumption of materials and as low a weight as possible.
A prototype of the chair was fitted with sensors and displayed at the Milan Furniture Fair in April 2012. Some 1,500 testers took the chance to trial the prototype in an interactive installation that emitted electronic signals in order to collect data. This technology is employed elsewhere in test labs at Audi for developing racing cars.
Based on the chair’s structural data, the designers were then able to optimize the prototype in collaboration with the engineers at the Audi Lightweight Construction Center.
The various materials were employed at those locations that best suited their properties. The resulting chair tips the scales at just 2.2 kilograms (4.85 lbs) and embodies the principle behind Audi ultra: removing even the smallest amount of superfluous material by selecting materials intelligently and optimizing the components used.
“This efficiency is the focus of our ultra lightweight construction principle”, confirmed Dr. Karl Durst, an engineer in fiber-reinforced composites at the Audi Lightweight Construction Center.
Durst was involved in the project: “We combine the strengths of the materials in such a way that their weaknesses are no longer important”, he clarified.
The final R18 Ultra Chair is being displayed at Design Miami/ from December 5 to 9.
During the show, the designers will host a special presentation to give visitors an insight into their work on the chair. On display will be sketches, material samples, models and prototypes from various stages of the development process as well as a robot used in the auto industry.
A highlight will be the chair’s namesake, the R18 ultra racing car, which competed for Audi in the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year.