Blockbuster will have you on the edge of your seat

A high-tech maritime chair from a tiny Norwegian design company has become one of the hottest seats in Hollywood, thanks to the upcoming summer blockbuster Transformers: Age of Extinction.

Alu Design uses moulded aluminium, touch screens, high-sensitivity joysticks, integrated electronics and ergonomic thinking to make all sorts of high-spec chairs for work at sea.

Since 2008, the company has delivered about 2,500 of these specialist chairs to commercial shipping vessels, drilling rigs, offshore support vessels, subsea vessels, tugs, aquaculture craft and “really for anything that floats”, according to marketing director Frank Robertsen.

He was sitting at home at 10.30 one night last year when the phone rang. As the caller claimed to be from Paramount Pictures and as it was April Fool’s Day, Robertsen was sceptical. “They said they had seen one of our chairs in a press release about Aker Solutions and that the whole production team loved it and wanted to use it in a movie,” he recalls. “I thought, ‘Yeah, right, this is just a joke’. But I followed it up anyway.”

Paramount ended up borrowing two MH OCH 300 units, which were supposed to be drilling operators’ chairs made exclusively for Aker Solutions. The studio paid for freight, and returned them to Norway in good condition after filming, says Robertsen, but Alu made new ones for Aker. It is using the returned chairs for exhibitions.

Transformers producer Ian Bryce says the film’s crew, including director Michael Bay, were so impressed with the chairs’ style that set decorator Rosemary Brandenburg used them “at the heart of her design”.

Robertsen cannot reveal the price of the MH OCH 300 because of confidentiality clauses. However, when pressed on how much a similar design would cost, he says the potential all-in delivery price, excluding software, would be about NOK180,000 ($30,500).