Building the Ultimate Lightweight Chair, 1 Butt at a Time

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Just how much material is really needed to build a chair that can stand up to every type of everyday stress? That's the question designers Clemens Weisshaar and Reed Kram are trying to answer by employing new technology from Audi and the butts of visitors to the 18th-century Palazzo Clerici in Milan.

Between April 17 and 22, the designers set up the chair and a corresponding wall display in the Palazzo Clerici. The R18 Ultra Chair was made of a carbon composite seat, a carbon-rubber composite back rest, and aluminium alloy legs—all of which could easily be packed into a lightweight box. The wall display showed stress points on the chair as a person sat down. The sophisticated readout was made possible by hooking the chair up to the same imaging technology that Audi uses to make sure its cars are as light and strong as possible. You can watch a video of the process below, or a bunch of videos on the website for the chair. All of this data will be analyzed by the team and then used to build a strong chair that employs the minimum amount of material.

The end product will be unveiled in December 2012 at Design Miami. If you want to learn more, there's a journal on the testing and chair design at

H/T: CO.Design

–Joe Spring

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