AUDI & Bösendorfer
Team Up For Contemporary Piano Design
Recently, automotive powerhouse Audi has allied itself with musical excellence. It has sponsored an annual series of live concerts in Ingolstadt, Germany that has greatly enhanced the cultural fabric of the city. Also in that vein, in anticipation of Audi’s 100th anniversary, the Germany-based company is celebrating with the gift of music: Audi designers were commissioned to create a contemporary-looking (yet still rich-sounding) Bösendorfer grand piano.
“Bösendorfer fit Audi’s holistic lifestyle marketing approach from the beginning,” explains Andreas Kaufmann, director of sales and marketing at Bösendorfer. Bösendorfer, a Viennese piano manufacturer often mentioned in the same breath as Steinway, has a custom-designed piano program, and it has a similar corporate culture to that of Audi. “Both companies are committed to the highest standards of quality, functionality, and design,” says Wolfgang Egger, Audi group head of design.
So, the two companies embarked on a collaboration. Although the spruce innards of the piano had to remain intact for the piano to retain its Bösendorfer spirit, the Audi team discovered that there were cosmetic changes they could make. “It was never a car piano. It was their interpretation of a piano,” says Ferdinand Bräu, Bösendorfer’s technical director in charge of production, service and research and development.
The lyre, the trio of piano foot pedals normally made from wood, has been changed to include metal components. The custom piano’s color scheme of black, white and silver reflects Audi’s automotive background. The leg on the bass side is designed to wrap over the piano lid and extend to the floor, giving the instrument the extra acoustics to project its exquisite sound out to the audience. Lastly, the wood exterior was given a high gloss polyurethane finish, reflecting Audi’s design aesthetics.
It was rolled out during Audi’s 100th anniversary party, a huge event at the carmaker’s headquarters with a stage full of dignitaries. More recently, pianist and songwriter Axel Zwingenberger played the instrument “in a boogie-woogie concert in October,” says Philip Schlesinger, Audi project senior designer. The company’s musical mascot is indeed on target to entertain audiences for years to come.