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The RECARO name has made groundbreaking advancements that have established standards for ergonomic and safe seating in vehicles, race cars, and aircraft. The business focused on the booming gaming market a few years back. A new and younger target market is reached with special chairs for eSports and the home office.

By Heike Edelmann

People sit, even if they move while doing so – at least when traveling or flying. However, as digitalization advances, virtual activities and encounters in virtual places and worlds are becoming more significant. The RECARO company demonstrates how having pre-existing skills and expertise are essential for navigating this transformation and breaking into new markets.

RECARO Podium (left) and Classic LX seats from the Retro Series in the flagship store in Munich, © RECARO

Interplay of Function, Ergonomics and Aesthetics

The industrial design of the seats for RECARO Automotive was carried out by a crew under the direction of Frank Beermann, a member of the organization since 1987. Its job is to visualise the brand’s core principles and competencies. According to Beermann, “an extraordinary appearance is accomplished through shape, choice of materials, and advanced production processes. Because the business specializes in producing bucket seats, the seats have a unique quality. A very thin coating of foam is adequate because even the seat supports have ergonomic shapes. Thus, “Ingenious Design,” as it is known at RECARO, creates the ideal balancing act of function, ergonomics, and aesthetics.

The topic of maintaining health by sitting properly in a car has “long been a focus of product development”, says Beermann – this is also reflected in the motto “form follows human”, because “the starting point for the entire RECARO design team is the human being and his or her anatomical characteristics”. In addition to offering comfort for the back and intervertebral discs, an ergonomically designed car seat also helps to reduce driver fatigue. According to Frank Beermann, this enables the driver to completely concentrate on the surrounding traffic or the racetrack.

New Target Group through Entry into the Gaming Market

In order to develop innovative products and be able to successfully launch them on the market, the correct timing is crucial. Throughout the history of the business, the brand has consistently been successful in identifying the ideal time. The RECARO brand, RECARO Aircraft Seating, and, since 2018, the new RECARO Gaming division, are all part of RECARO Holding today. Similar to the special seats for racing, the team consults with experts from the industry to develop solutions that are specific to the target demographic. In collaboration with licensees, RECARO Automotive Seating and RECARO Kids are handled in their traditional fields.

“Our seat was developed with players for players,” claims Daniel Behres, Managing Director of RECARO Gaming. The “well-founded ergonomic competence of the seat experts from the Group” was additionally included at the same time. This is how the “Recaro Exo” was born, the first product designed especially for the growing gaming community – a younger demographic than car enthusiasts who purchase seats from the retro series, for example. The new brand’s main visual, which bears the slogan “FIRST OF ITS KIND,” is designed in a way that’s reminiscent of early computer representations.

RECARO Exo with shielding headrest and ergonomic seat shell especially for eGamers, © RECARO

Transfomation Needs History

The example demonstrates that in transformation, history is just as important as courage. The Stuttgart Carosserie & Radfabrik was established in 1906 by master saddler Wilhelm Reutter, who was passionate about the automobile’s still-young invention, and built custom bodies and interiors for all well known manufacturers. A cooperation with the Porsche engineering division had existed since 1930. For Porsche’s first production model, the Porsche 356, Reutter produced the bodies, including the interior and seats. Porsche bought Reutter’s automobile body plant in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen in 1963. The business now focuses on the development and production of seats for sports cars. These were quickly discovered in Porsche 911s, as well as other brands’ vehicles. The change was accompanied by a typical renaming: the company name “Reutter Carosserie” became the brand name RECARO, which consistently appeared in capitals on the products and in communication.

RECARO Sport C: fully electric sports seat with 8-way adjustment for retrofitting, © RECARO

The business introduced the first car seat with pronounced side guides, ergonomically optimized contours, and foam padding in 1965. The “RECARO sports seat” was intended to be lighter than previous car seats, with individually adjustable backrests that could be installed in various kinds of vehicles using a special bracket. The RECARO sports seat was renamed the “ideal seat” four years after its market debut to avoid the misconception that it was only designed for sporty drivers.

Milestones in the Company’s History

According to the company’s slogan, “He who sits well, drives better,” the company’s development was continually improved. The woven-in logo, which is still in use today with only slight changes, has been visible from a distance at head height since the end of the 1960s.

Advertisement motif with the slogan from the 1960s, © RECARO

The first seat with an integrated safety belt was unveiled by the manufacturer as a global first in 1971, and afterwards, more significant advancements. Soon, high seat quality and light weight became desirable in other industries as well. At the start of the 1970s, well-known airlines like Lufthansa, Hapag-Lloyd, and Korean Airlines received the first aircraft seats made of lightweight materials. The development of RECARO chairs always focused on enhancing safety in addition to their lightweight design and high level of comfort. In 1998, the RECARO Kids division debuted the “RECARO Start,” a child seat that could grow with the youngster.

The ergonomically designed RECARO Rae gaming seat is also suitable for screen work in the home office, © RECARO

Ergonomic Seat for Gaming and the Home Office

With the addition of gaming seats, another sector has been created. The successful introduction of the Exo was followed by the “RECARO Rae”, an ergonomically designed gaming seat that is also suitable for screen work in the home office. In this area, it is crucial to have a high-quality synchronous mechanism, integrated lumbar support, and intuitive operation. In any gaming or working position, the stable armrests help to provide the body the best possible support and stability. The business designed a limited edition Exo Platinum model in conjunction with Porsche; Studio F.A. Porsche created its colour scheme, which was influenced by the sports cars made by the premium automaker.

Motif from the RECARO x Porsche campaign, © RECARO

The RECARO example shows: If the substance and competence are right, the transformation from a car body manufacturer that created products in small series to a specialised and diversified seat brand is just as possible as a reorientation that continually opens up new fields of application for seating, sportiness and comfort – in the air as well as for playing in virtual worlds.

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