The Subtraction Chair
A collaboration between One Hundred Ninth and Architectural Artist Graham Kelman, the Subtraction Chair embodies elegance, innovation, and purpose. Crafted from sustainably sourced White Oak, its solid form is complemented by an intricately slender steel inlay. Kelman approached the concept as an art installation -  blurring the lines between sculpture and seating - designed to encourage contemplation and inspiration.  As a poetic gesture, the Subtraction Chair emphasizes the necessity of embracing beauty and thoughtfulness in everyday objects.

The Subtraction Chair functions as both a utilitarian object and sculptural art installation. The impetus was sparked from an observation -  our built environment is a reflection of us. We typically take our built surroundings for granted, and there can be a tendency to  grow desensitized to the human effort and creativity intrinsic in the elements within them. We wanted to create an everyday object that catalyzes curiosity and celebrates the human spirit through a playful, expressive design. We also wanted to pose questions through the form for people to ponder, like how can technology and tradition coexist in a graceful way? We believe in the necessity of poetry in everyday objects in the built world; a universally beneficial idea.

Chair A + B
35” x 17 1/2” x 20 1/4”
White Oak, Steel, Powder-Coated Finish
The Subtraction Chair is a self-commissioned product, driven by the desire to create a bold gesture that celebrates contrast and contradiction in order to encourage curiosity and  contemplation. It’s designed for all people because its foundational themes are fundamentally universal and uniquely human: the use of digital design methodologies and meticulous craftsmanship,  strength revealed in absence or void and  achieving an ideal ergonomic balance.

The idea for the chair is derived from Graham Kelman’s fascination with contradictory concepts and elements -  simplicity and complexity, organic and geometric, gestural and precise - and is part of a collection of  one-of-a-kind pieces that are visually striking and highly functional. The Subtraction Chair is a  collaboration between Graham Kelman Studio  and  One Hundred and Ninth, a full-service design and fabrication practice  that specializes in imagining and building sculptural elements.
Made from sustainably sourced solid White Oak from responsibly managed forests, the Subtraction Chair is milled and finished using hidden mortise and tenon connections. The minimal form is complemented by an intricately slender steel inlay that envelopes a void, and the steel “void” is laser cut, bent, welded, and powder coated. The two elements are then pressure fit into a single gesture that appears almost effortless. These techniques are the result of countless hours of research, design iterations and prototypes. Every chair is numbered, signed and engraved with a brass inlay, including a concept sketch from Graham’s sketchbook. 

One Hundred Ninth develops innovative products at the intersection of concept and production - bringing to fruition ambitious ideas, gestures and expressive forms. The Subtraction Chair was further developed, engineered and crafted at their facility in Philadelphia, PA. 
The gesture of the Subtraction Chair lies in the interplay of materials. The White Oak body is FSC certified, and is  sourced from responsibly managed forests that provide environmental, social, and economic benefits. The purpose of this material choice is both for natural warmth and sustainability, ensuring that we achieve our vision without compromising the health of the world’s forests.

Fundamental to our approach is considering how we’re able to optimize our production for the least amount of waste possible. The specific steel used in the subtraction portion of the chair was derived from a parameter to use surplus materials available. Every element within the collection considers the ideal nesting of shapes on standard sheet goods for maximum efficiency.

The Team

Matt Tarosky
Graham Kelman
Lindsay Weiss
Kevin Chen
Max Greenberg
Katie McCormick
Raunak Deshmukh
Kelsey Owens
Grace Choi
Colin Lew
Michael Levengood
Caroline Shank

You may also like

Back to Top