AUDI R18 ultra chair
AUDI R18 ultra chair AUDI R18 ultra chair
apr 23, 2012

AUDI R18 ultra chair

‘R18 ultra chair’ designed by clemens weisshaar and reed kram image © tom vack




designed by clemens weisshaar and reed kram in collaboration with the AUDI lightweight design centre, the ‘R18 ultra chair‘ is a furniture piece designed as an experiment in technology transfer from the research behind the AUDI ‘R18’ le mans racecar.


designboom originally published this article as a preview on april 13th, but we’ve just updated with new images, information, and an interview with designer clemens weisshaar, following our visit to the ‘R18 ultra chair’ public beta installation during milan design week 2012. the exhibition comprised an interactive installation of the ‘R18’ chair and other experimental furniture concepts, held at the palazzo clerici as part of domus’s exhibition ‘the future in the making‘.

filming the tests image © designboom




the video from our testing session has been uploaded, SEE the performance here.


in the ‘R18 ultra chair’ itself, developed in collaboration with AUDI research teams, a carbon-fibre seat with carbon rubber backrest is paired upon aluminum alloy legs. the piece is collapsible, allowing components to be packed flat for shipping, offering an 80% decrease in shipping volume and thus saving energy and costs.


during the ‘public beta exhibition’ developed by clemens weisshaar and reed kram for milan design week, AUDI opened the testing process to the general public, equipping the prototype chair with industrial sensors connected to a central server. as an individual sits in the chair, information about the flow of forces from his or her weight is depicted on visualization screens throughout the space, and available to the person by e-mail as a personal, shareable video. the data will also be used by AUDI in optimization efforts to streamline the chair’s construction.


slideshow of images from the exhibition at milan design week, as designer clemens weisshaar discusses the project
video and all images © designboom




in an interview with designboom, clemens weisshaar explained that the public testing was designed to collect two kinds of data: scientific information about the dynamic loads of human weight on the chair, including stress and strain; and a character study of the way in which people sit. the over 100 industrial sensors utilized in the project are typically used in the construction and monitoring of naval craft.

hundreds of people sat in the chair over the course of the week, offering a large data set for use in optimizing the construction


full view of chair during the public beta testing installation image © designboom


full view of chair image © tom vack -->

detail on the sensing components along the back of the chair image © designboom


detail on wiring of the prototype image © designboom


detail on panels image © designboom


underside view of seat base image © designboom



the ‘R18 ultra chair’ installation at palazzo clerici is comprised of the chair itself, equipped with 100 industrial force sensors; a signal conditioning system to capture and amplify the input; and a realtime screen-based visualization system. all of the data obtained from the exhibition will be utilized towards streamlining the chair’s construction, and a final version is to be presented in december 2012.


the ‘ultra’ line of which the ‘R18’ chair is a part is a design paradigm established by AUDI, governing the development, construction, and transportation of materials and products. lightweight construction, state-of-the-art technology, life cycle efficiency, and recyclability are all considered in the strategy.

the exhibition at palazzo clerici during milan design week 2012 image © tom vack


the chair adopts technology originally designed for the ‘R18 le mans racecar’, which was also on show at the public beta installation image © designboom



clemens weisshaar explains the purpose in the project of collecting this data
video © designboom


concept render of the ‘R18 ultra chair public beta installation’, palazzo clerici, milan design week 2012 image © kram/weisshaar



chair parts and sensor comonents image © kram/weisshaar

clemens weisshaar and reed kram, designers of the ‘R18 ultra chair’, pose wearing their ‘designboom’ pins portrait © designboom

  • very cool way of reconfiguring the design process…. crowdsourced data! amazing.

    tido says:
  • how much money is getting wasted for this pseudo-design exhibition and developments. it shouln’t be about who has the longest and strongest!

    vincenze says:
  • @vincenze, look at it from a more systems approach:

    this is pretty novel, so we have to consider that a lot of that money for exhibition is _effectively_ going towards publicizing this way of approaching design.

    …which in itself is very much taking into account issues of maintaining a low footprint, whether that’s environmentally or economically speaking.

    it’s a question of long-term payoff, for this particular project and for all the design that it might influence that comes after it.

    i myself am really interested in the data-driven quality of this approach.

    mark petrus says:
  • will it be traveling to other places for testing before the final chair is shown?!

    maria says:
  • I just wanted to recommend to anyone to play the video in this article. I don’t always watch videos because I have slow internet but in this case you should, I think what they say is interesting in helping explain the project.

    ddhi says:

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