I recently had the opportunity to sit on one of the most advanced chairs in the world. Aptly called Elysium, this elegant yet sleek piece of furniture allows the user to experience total weightlessness. Crafted in a workshop in Cambridge, England, the technology behind this chair blends seamlessly with traditional craftsmanship.

Showcased at Bang & Olufsen’s Knightsbridge studio, I sat in the chair while designer David Wickett did a brief question/answer session with me. With only 20 Elysium chairs available in the world in its first limited-edition run (boasting gold features, personal numbers and engraved by David Hugh Ltd.), it is truly a collectors item. Truth be told, the comfort (and after-effects) the chair provided can only be compared to deep meditation in a weightless environment. Here’s how our conversation unfolded:

David Wickett, Elysium designer

What sets Elysium apart from other innovative chairs?
It has to be the way it feels. Elysium is arguably the most comfortable chair in the world, placing the body in equilibrium, and holding the user in frictionless balance where only the slightest of gesture is required to move. It is this patented frictionless movement that makes Elysium the only chair in the world that truly simulates weightlessness, removing all physical pressures from the body in a totally unique experience akin to floatation therapy.

How was Elysium conceived as an idea?

In 2002 whilst a Masters student of Industrial Design, I made a simple observation that would define my career. This was that scientific knowledge adds emotional value to design that is beyond performance. A great example is automotive design where the value of aerodynamics extends far beyond improvements in drag factor. It creates desire. Elysium is the culmination of the 14 years of medical design practice and scientific research that stems from that observation.

How does it “neutralize” gravity?

The mechanism, on either side of the chair just below the armrests, is made up of six roller bearings that move around a machined hub. This allows the chair to balance at a point at which downwards pressure is spread entirely evenly, and the sensation of weightlessness is created.

There are no electric motors or spring mechanisms. The weightlessness is created by six roller bearings, three either side of the chair just below the armrests, that move around a machined hub. The specific shape of the hub creates continuous balance and the roller bearings create frictionless movement.

What is your background in physics and human anatomy?

For over 10 years I worked with a manufacturer of medical seating. Here, I designed specialist seating, including a number of products for the NHS. Designing in this sector enabled me to develop a deep understanding of the human body from a medical perspective that goes far beyond conventional seating ergonomics. It was during this time that I was working on my PhD in biomechanics, and as part of my research I created a mathematical model for posture and the optimal support for the spine.

Elysium represents the confluence of my knowledge in design, science and medical technology. It allows the body to move with absolute ease, which gives rise to an utterly unique sense of comfort and wellbeing. The optimum position for a new sensory experience is about halfway or 25°. Here, pressure is evenly distributed across all surfaces and all joints are held at their most relaxed position – in equilibrium. The resulting sensation is one in which all physical pressures are removed from the user’s perception through a similar effect to floatation therapy. Reclining further beyond this point increases the mechanical benefits to the spine which have potential to relieve pain.

What else inspired the design of this product?

In general there is a strong North European modernist influence to the design. There is a slight deviation from modernism, however, with a touch of English vernacular where reference has been made to the archetypal 17th century wingback fireside chair. Other references can be seen with Jacobsen’s Egg chair (1958), Kukkapuro’s Karuselli chair (1964), Jacobsen’s Vola taps (1968), Bang & Olufsen’s Beocenter (1991) and even Norman Foster’s New Mexico Space Port (2007).

What materials does Elysium comprise? How can customers customise their own?

Elysium is the first chair to have an internal upholstery frame made of carbon fibre. Carbon fibre was chosen because it is moulded and therefore achieves the highly complex shapes required to support the body in the right way, it is strong enough to take the weight onto the backrest when reclined and it is very lightweight. A variety of foams are used in the design, including a large ergonomically moulded memory foam cushion in the backrest.

All of the external frames are machined stainless steel, made by the same craftsmen who make Lister Jaguar racing cars, while the leather is a beautiful and high performing Scandinavian semi-aniline hide, available in a choice of 70 colours. The leather cover was developed in Norfolk by a highly skilled seamstress who formerly worked on Lotus car interiors.

Elysium is a truly bespoke product, with every part made to order. It is the first chair of its kind where the actual recline mechanism can be designed and built to the user’s balance. While the chair is offered in a choice of 70 leather colours, if the client requires alternative leathers or fabrics then this can be done, likewise, the metal frames can be finished to the individual client’s preference, for example with a soft touch paint.

Why have you affiliated with Bang & Olufsen to introduce Elysium to the world?

The affiliation we have with Bang & Olufsen grew out of the strength in design cohesion. The Bang & Olufsen showroom really is the perfect context to see and experience Elysium. The affiliation has also given rise to the opportunity to explore the impact posture has on emotion and perception. We are finding that the experience of the sound systems at Bang & Olufsen, which are already incredible, are taken to another level when experienced in Elysium.

For more information on Elysium, please contact your Insignia Personal Assistant.

Share your story:
Contact your Insignia personal assistant for details
Related articles
3 days ago
Sun, Sea, and Style: Marbella Summer 2024 Guide
Welcome to Marbella, the jewel of Spain’s Costa del Sol, where luxury meets tradition. Nestled between the Sierra Blanca mountains and the shimmering Mediterranean Sea, Marbella is the epitome of opulence and elegance. This...
2 weeks ago
Explore the Creative Mastery of Dolce & Gabbana: From Vision to Craftsmanship
An Exclusive Exhibition Unveiled Embark on a journey through the creative universe of Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, two of fashion’s most iconic designers, in their exhibition showcasing the brand’s most...
3 weeks ago
What is the Most Exclusive Credit Card in the World?
Undoubtedly, the most high-profile payment card in the world is often considered the American Express Centurion Card, commonly known as the “Amex Black Card.” However, true exclusivity goes beyond mere recognition; it...
4 weeks ago
What is Luxury Travel?
Luxury travel encompasses experiences that prioritise comfort, exclusivity, and personalised service. It goes beyond the basics to offer high-end accommodations, premium transportation, exceptional dining, and bespoke...
1 month ago
The Best Destinations for Stargazing in Luxury (2024) | Insignia
The best luxury stargazing destinations in 2024 In 2024, stargazing enthusiasts seeking the ultimate blend of luxury and celestial wonder can explore remarkable destinations that offer the perfect canvas for night-sky adventures....
1 month ago
The 15 Best Luxury Skincare Brands in 2024 | Insignia
The skincare landscape continues to evolve, with brands that combine innovation, luxury, and proven results leading the charge. From pioneering biotech formulas to those steeped in heritage and natural ingredients, here are the...
2 months ago
Beyond Threads: Insignia’s Insightful Conversation with Fashion Visionary Riina Laanetu
In the world of fashion, where individuality and expression reign supreme, RIINA LAANETU stands out as a beacon of female empowerment and contemporary elegance.  Founded by a tailor with a vision to transcend the boundaries...
2 months ago
What is a Lifestyle Manager, and Should You Get One?
A lifestyle manager is a specialised professional who helps streamline, organise, and enhance various aspects of an individual’s personal and professional life. They act as a single coordination point for all personal...
2 years ago
Tranquil Maldives Resorts This Eid Al Fitr 2022
As the Eid long weekend awaits us, just a four-hour flight away from Dubai is the paradise of the Maldives. It’s the ultimate getaway to enjoy the sun, sand and sea. The destination mesmerises its visitors with picturesque...
3 years ago
These 10 Luxury Skincare Brands are the Definition of Self-care
Like any regimen, skincare is a very personal journey. What works for one person might not work for another. However, there are several ingredients often found in luxury skincare lines that experts swear by for themselves and...
3 years ago
The Top Bridal Trends for 2021 Weddings
There’s no wrong time to get married to the love of your life. And if you have already decided on the date, then it’s time to think about the rest. Fashion is more important than ever before. What was once all about...
3 years ago
The Best Luxury Family Holidays this Spring
With the advent of spring comes new life, vibrancy and hope. What better way to celebrate than by spending quality time with the people who matter to you the most on a vacation away from the trappings of the office and the home....
3 years ago
The Ultimate Spring Detox Plan
We tend to associate spring with cleaning. Spring is the perfect time for a holistic detox as the season is synonymous with the symbolism of rebirth and new life. We talk a lot about detoxing our bodies, but what about the other...
3 years ago
The Most Romantic Watches To Gift Your Other Half On Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day had its roots in the Middle Ages when it was a common belief that the 14th day of February marked the start of mating season for birds. Ever since, couples worldwide have associated this special day with love...
3 years ago
The Best Sportscars Launched This Year
Despite the pandemic’s adverse effects, leading sportscar manufacturers are looking forward to welcoming customers back to showrooms this year.  Over the next 12 months, we anticipate a flock of exciting new releases...
3 years ago
How Covid-19 Affected The Luxury Industry In 2020 And What To Expect Moving Forward
Back in the early months of 2020, the Coronavirus outbreak presented a seemingly enormous threat to the trillion-dollar luxury market. From national lockdowns and closed borders to financial recession and stock market crashes,...
3 years ago
How The Wealthy Will Holiday This Year
Despite the limitless budgets, vacation homes across the globe, and chartered jets, this year’s COVID-19 restrictions have got even the wealthiest on their toes waiting for the “OK” on holiday planning. At this point,...
4 years ago
EY Strategic Growth Forum
Ernst and Young’s Strategic Growth Forum is an invitation-only CEO event with a prestigious pedigree. The Strategic Growth Forum 2019 was a four-day conference packed with helpful breakout sessions and all-star speakers...

Insignia in the press

'Highly personalised and exclusive services to those who 
want to experience the best life has to offer.'
'Inside the $225,000 Oscars 2020 Gift Bag'
'Move over AmEx, here are by invitiation credit cards that cost $200,000'
'When AmEx Black Just Won't Do: A Gem-encrusted Card for .001%'
'The service is like having an invisible companion'
'British lifestyle management company takes the sting out of travel and daily life elevating it all to a lovely new life form'
'When you're exorbitantly rich, you can afford not to fret over things like your 15th wedding anniversary - at least if you're an Insignia member'