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Audi tackles Ikea with R18 Ultra Chair

Not content with dominating motor racing and building gorgeous road-going supercars, Audi has turned its corporate hand to building furniture. Yes, seriously. The German giant, part of the VW group, has commissioned a pair of artists to built what it calls the Audi R18 Ultra Chair, for no reason other than it looks cool. Eat your heart out, Ikea.

The R18 Ultra Chair is inspired by the Le Mans car.
The R18 Ultra Chair is inspired by the R18 Ultra Le Mans car.

Unveiled in its finished form at the recent Design Miami show, the Audi R18 Ultra Chair is inspired by the driver’s seat in the R18 Ultra Le Mans prototype. Designers Clemens Weisshaar and Reed Kram wove together lightweight carbon fibre, carbon and high-strength sheet aluminium to produce a chair that tips the scales at a quite amazing 2.2kg – about as much as a couple of bags of sugar.

Why you’d want a chair to be that light is beyond us (perhaps it might be easier to lift out of the way when you’re doing the Hoovering) but there’s no denying it looks pretty awesome. We can’t imagine it’d be very comfortable to sit on though, not unless Audi throws in a couple of aerodynamically-optimised cushions.

The R18 Ultra Chair’s build process was a surprisingly complex one. The first prototype was built back in April 2012, where it was shown off at the Milan Furniture Fair. There, it was fitted with an array of sensors that collected data on the forces at play whenever someone sat on it. Around 1,500 testers were invited to try the seat, and the data extracted from their bottoms helped refine the design.

“We combine the strengths of the materials in such a way that their weaknesses are no longer important,” commented Dr. Karl Durst, an engineer in fibre-reinforced composites at the Audi Lightweight Construction Centre. “This efficiency is the focus of our ultra lightweight construction principle.”

You can’t buy the Audi R18 Ultra Chair (you probably wouldn’t be able to afford it anyway) but you can have a closer look at it below.


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