Excuse me
2017
Story

Communication is the art of conveying thought and a fundamental form of interaction. While verbal communication accounts for barely 7% in the pie, tone and body language attribute the remaining 93%. However, geographic and cultural variance induces significant inconsistencies. Broadly speaking, (West) European candour versus an highly inhibited and conservative Asian disposition is one such example. “Excuse me”, is a mechanism that could be a metaphor to showcase indirect Asian traits. It does not imply failure to communicate or a lack of straightforwardness, rather an alternative way of expression. It entails that Asians have weaved into their communicative fabric the ability to deduce meaning from past suggestions and established truths - a means to decipher the “code”. An exaggeration of this cultural difference is manifested in bringing the excuse (the chair) to life. This stool behaves like a needy pet that will emote anger, thirst and excretory urges too. This rather fictitious poetic illustration captures the creative ability of people to formulate an array of “white lies”. Some while being outright ridiculous, none of them intend or result in harm.  

Concept I have always been envying those who smoke for the reason that I discovered cigarette as a very useful tool in a social context. It enables the smoker to take a break and to leave the current, possibly unpleasant situation without revealing the real excuse underlying the action of craving for a cigarette. To me this is a very good excuse to leave an uncomfortable moment. A few years ago, when I just arrived in The Netherlands, I went to some gatherings and saw some friends taking cigarettes out of their pockets and having a break outside. At the same time I felt that I need some fresh air, and therefore I went outside and took a small walk on my own. When I came back everyone looked at me and asked me if I would be alright. At that brief moment I felt the pressure to tell the truth. In fact, I just wanted to be on my own for a bit. Nevertheless, in this case I kept my feelings and chose not to speak out to prevent the unnecessary attention or care—so I immediately made up an excuse. Since in the Taiwanese culture, we usually don’t directly tell an ordinary friend: “Sorry, I want to be alone”. This message is often used in serious and negative contexts. However, this doesn’t mean that we don’t need a break at all, but we just have a different way of sending messages. Codes like “I need to make a phone call” or “I need to go to the ATM” are more likely realistic excuses. Even though we use this secret language, everybody is able to read between the lines. In such a way I have created my own type of “cigarette”. My tool has an equivalent ability to the cigarette, which will help me to visualise my ideological escape during social gatherings. By using the seat as a replacement within a common social context, this makes it connecting to a strong individual thought to your seat. A seat represents the presence of an individual person in a particular moment. As an individual you represent your absence to the chair and learn how to excuse yourself. For this reason I created this unique chair to help me to have an acceptable excuse to take a break and to come back later. Therefore, I created a chair to visualize the excuse in an imagery way. It is needy and demanding which make you feel responsible to take care of it. The cushion will slowly inflate when you will sit down. The inflation represents the increasing social pressure and it also reflects the intensified emotions that will soon reach the limit; the person on the seat might expect it to explode. The cushion can be deflated through feeding the water on the side. Therefore, it is a good reason to excuse yourself to get some water for the chair. The challenge of taking care of this chair is to obtain the optimal balance between seating, leaving and feeding. To recap, the chair is a metaphor to cover my excuse for a limited time of social interactions. My chair is an object to visualise my hidden need for a break.

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