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A progressively luxurious lounge on wheels

The designers of the Audi grandsphere concept¹ describe the spaciousness, experiences and operating features tomorrow’s executive-class sedans could offer.

10/04/2021 Text: AUDI AG - photo: Piotr Kożuch Reading Time: 10 min

¹The vehicle shown is a concept vehicle that is not available as a production vehicle.

¹The vehicle shown is a concept vehicle that is not available as a production vehicle.

An Audi designer looks at a stage in the development of the Audi grandsphere concept interior.
A human-centric approach was used to shape the interior design of the Audi grandsphere concept². With autonomous driving² as an option, a new interior concept has now become a reality.

²The vehicle shown is a concept vehicle that is not available as a production vehicle. The automated driving functions shown are technologies currently under development, are not available for production vehicles and only work within system limits. All possible uses of the technical systems and functions shown represent only a possible concept and are dependent on the respective legal regulations in the relevant country.

²The vehicle shown is a concept vehicle that is not available as a production vehicle. The automated driving functions shown are technologies currently under development, are not available for production vehicles and only work within system limits. All possible uses of the technical systems and functions shown represent only a possible concept and are dependent on the respective legal regulations in the relevant country.

Human-centric design

“Our central idea in designing the Audi grandsphere concept² was to create a very special place - a first-class lounge on wheels that is not only amply spacious and quiet but also very comfortable. What’s more, it was important that this airy spaciousness remain uncompromised, irrespective of whether the car is driven manually or in autonomous mode².

 

Our human-centric design makes people - with their different needs and desires - the touchstone for design-related decisions. Until now, traveling in a car meant that individuals had to adapt to the automotive environment. But we questioned whether it really has to be that way. Why should the car dictate how passengers behave inside it and interact with it? Wouldn’t it be better for the users - the people in the vehicle - to choose what they want to do in a car? When you want to be able to lie back and relax, you can do so safe in the knowledge that, in autonomous mode², the car has everything under control. But if you feel like taking the wheel, you can. The choice is yours. And that includes indulging in a digital detox. Considering how we are constantly surrounded by screens, information and content in our daily lives, isn’t the luxury of spending time with yourself a very first-class experience? And there’s no need for FOMO in the Audi grandsphere concept² because whenever the mood takes you, everything can always be activated at a moment’s notice by gesture control or eye tracking.

²The vehicle shown is a concept vehicle that is not available as a production vehicle. The automated driving functions shown are technologies currently under development, are not available for production vehicles and only work within system limits. All possible uses of the technical systems and functions shown represent only a possible concept and are dependent on the respective legal regulations in the relevant country.

²The vehicle shown is a concept vehicle that is not available as a production vehicle. The automated driving functions shown are technologies currently under development, are not available for production vehicles and only work within system limits. All possible uses of the technical systems and functions shown represent only a possible concept and are dependent on the respective legal regulations in the relevant country.

As with any other of the Four Rings’ cars, the Audi grandsphere¹ aims to cast a certain kind of three-part magic spell over people. First of all, you’re struck by the exterior’s wow factor. After that comes the pleasure of being in the interior. Finally, after a few months with the car, you realise that you’re still discovering new things because, down to the very last detail, everything is done to perfection. That’s what we strive to achieve at Audi Design.”

- Maksymilian Nawka, interior designer

¹The vehicle shown is a concept vehicle that is not available as a production vehicle.

¹The vehicle shown is a concept vehicle that is not available as a production vehicle.

Isn’t the luxury of spending time with yourself a very first-class experience?”

- Maksymilian Nawka

Development concepts for the Audi grandsphere concept interior.
Previously, the first-class experience was usually reserved for the rear seats, but advances in autonomous driving² make it possible for those in the front seats of the Audi grandsphere concept² to enjoy it, too.

²The vehicle shown is a concept vehicle that is not available as a production vehicle. The automated driving functions shown are technologies currently under development, are not available for production vehicles and only work within system limits. All possible uses of the technical systems and functions shown represent only a possible concept and are dependent on the respective legal regulations in the relevant country.

²The vehicle shown is a concept vehicle that is not available as a production vehicle. The automated driving functions shown are technologies currently under development, are not available for production vehicles and only work within system limits. All possible uses of the technical systems and functions shown represent only a possible concept and are dependent on the respective legal regulations in the relevant country.

Front-row first class

“The development of autonomous driving² is the biggest change we’re seeing in automotive interior design right now and will significantly impact people’s expectations of tomorrow’s mobility experience. At the moment, activities inside the car are largely defined by driving. And that’s not going to change any time soon. But the advent of autonomous driving² will give people far greater freedom and scope to decide how they want to spend their time in the car. For us as designers, this means that we are no longer just designing a product, but a mobile platform that lets people use their time in completely unique, new ways. Part of that is bringing the first-class experience normally reserved for the rear to the front seats of the Audi grandsphere².

 

It goes without saying that spaciousness and comfort are paramount when designing an interior that promises a first-class motoring experience. When the car operates in autonomous mode², we want the people in front to have as much space as possible. That’s why the steering wheel is designed to fold seamlessly into the front section of the car when not in use. As soon as this happens, the left seat can also slide back to the centre of the vehicle. In other words, the driver gets to enjoy the ultimate in comfort. You almost feel as if you’re floating toward your destination.

 

This sensation is heightened when the car doors close and the many wooden elements create a warm, very natural environment. For the occupants, it’s like being enveloped in a welcome cocoon of peace and relaxation. At no point is the ambience of the space in any way compromised because every piece of information is projected onto this wooden surface, which shimmers through ever so slightly. During the journey, we want passengers to recline fully, relax² and perhaps turn their gaze to the world outside the vehicle. To achieve this, we designed a glass roof that not only lets the maximum amount of natural light into the vehicle but also offers an almost uninterrupted view of the outside. This gives the occupants a more immediate connection to the surrounding landscape.”

- James Nissen, interior designer

²The vehicle shown is a concept vehicle that is not available as a production vehicle. The automated driving functions shown are technologies currently under development, are not available for production vehicles and only work within system limits. All possible uses of the technical systems and functions shown represent only a possible concept and are dependent on the respective legal regulations in the relevant country.

²The vehicle shown is a concept vehicle that is not available as a production vehicle. The automated driving functions shown are technologies currently under development, are not available for production vehicles and only work within system limits. All possible uses of the technical systems and functions shown represent only a possible concept and are dependent on the respective legal regulations in the relevant country.

A hand gesture to rotate a control element.
When the seats are in the comfortable, reclined position, the controls are out of reach. Audi has a neat trick - operating the MMI touchless response using hand gestures, so no contact is required.

There’s something magical about using gestures to control the MMI touchless response.”

- Alexander Bart

Seating comfort at its best

“If you look at today’s luxury cars, you realise that the most comfortable seats are usually in the rear. But since the Audi grandsphere concept² is designed for autonomous driving², we were able to give the front seats the full blissful experience. We created a cosy bench in the back and focused in particular on the individual seats in the front.

 

When in autonomous driving mode², this vehicle is designed to take relaxation to new heights. The secret to this is the front seat backrests, which recline by 60 degrees. However, you cannot reach the usual controls from a supine position without difficulty. That’s why we came up with the very special MMI touchless response, which is set into the sides of the doors at the front. In the upright position, you can touch it, feel it and move it. When the seat is reclined, it can be operated by gesture control. There’s something magical about that. It goes without saying that the seats boast every state-of-the-art technical feature - from comfort headrests with integrated speakers to create private sound zones all the way to climate control and massage functions.

 

The aesthetic challenge for us as designers was to create a seat that is pleasing to the eye in both the driving and reclined positions. Our response? We used flexible material in the side bolsters. If you adjust the seat from upright to reclined, this flexible section stretches to fully enclose the side. When raised back to the driving position, the material slides back like a curtain that opens to occupants when they get into the car. As designers, we love the wizardry of such flexible seats.”

- Alexander Bart, seat designer

²The vehicle shown is a concept vehicle that is not available as a production vehicle. The automated driving functions shown are technologies currently under development, are not available for production vehicles and only work within system limits. All possible uses of the technical systems and functions shown represent only a possible concept and are dependent on the respective legal regulations in the relevant country.

²The vehicle shown is a concept vehicle that is not available as a production vehicle. The automated driving functions shown are technologies currently under development, are not available for production vehicles and only work within system limits. All possible uses of the technical systems and functions shown represent only a possible concept and are dependent on the respective legal regulations in the relevant country.

Stirringly sophisticated materials

“The colours and materials chosen for the Audi grandsphere concept² tell a story of emotionally charged simplicity. With our focus on authentic, sustainable materials, we aimed to create a space with a warm, welcoming atmosphere. In choosing colours, materials and trim, we set great store by balance and harmony. Even an interior designed around simplicity and minimalism still needs to have a certain vitality, a mix of emotions that are conveyed above all through the materials. In autonomous mode², when the interior morphs into a lounge, the materials take centre stage. To create that lounge feel, there also needs to be a change in the materials’ proportions so that larger surfaces feature natural, cosy materials and the tech is seamlessly integrated into the interior. There are no screens in the Audi grandsphere². Instead, all passenger information is projected onto a wooden surface. This symbiotic relationship between physical and digital creates a wondrous effect. The interplay between projected passenger information and wooden surface brings both to life. It’s a seamless and genuine interaction.

²The vehicle shown is a concept vehicle that is not available as a production vehicle. The automated driving functions shown are technologies currently under development, are not available for production vehicles and only work within system limits. All possible uses of the technical systems and functions shown represent only a possible concept and are dependent on the respective legal regulations in the relevant country.

²The vehicle shown is a concept vehicle that is not available as a production vehicle. The automated driving functions shown are technologies currently under development, are not available for production vehicles and only work within system limits. All possible uses of the technical systems and functions shown represent only a possible concept and are dependent on the respective legal regulations in the relevant country.

Various fabric samples of the interior of the Audi grandsphere concept.

The Audi grandsphere concept¹ is a space with a charisma of wellbeing.”

- Ann Catherine Lang

That balance between the emotional and the sublime is precisely what I like best about the Audi grandsphere¹. By pairing a minimalist design idiom with an emotional user experience, the colour and trim in the Audi grandsphere concept¹ create the same feel as the living room in a home. The colour scheme for the seats, armrests and pervasive wood finishes revolves around pale, warm grey tones. When it’s combined with the Glazed Plum accent colour, which appears in various shades and materials on the seats’ side bolsters and back shells, the palette alludes to current trends in architecture, fashion and furniture design. For passengers, the car should be like a living room, one where they’re surrounded by materials that make them feel at home.”

- Ann Catherine Lang, colour & trim designer

¹The vehicle shown is a concept vehicle that is not available as a production vehicle.

¹The vehicle shown is a concept vehicle that is not available as a production vehicle.

The Audi grandsphere concept.
The Audi grandsphere concept¹ is a luxury lounge on wheels.

¹The vehicle shown is a concept vehicle that is not available as a production vehicle.

¹The vehicle shown is a concept vehicle that is not available as a production vehicle.

The interior of the Audi grandsphere concept²

First-class travel

The Audi grandsphere concept² offers not only a progressive amount of space with an architectural feel but also new interior experiences.

Read more

²The vehicle shown is a concept vehicle that is not available as a production vehicle. The automated driving functions shown are technologies currently under development, are not available for production vehicles and only work within system limits. All possible uses of the technical systems and functions shown represent only a possible concept and are dependent on the respective legal regulations in the relevant country.

²The vehicle shown is a concept vehicle that is not available as a production vehicle. The automated driving functions shown are technologies currently under development, are not available for production vehicles and only work within system limits. All possible uses of the technical systems and functions shown represent only a possible concept and are dependent on the respective legal regulations in the relevant country.