The Excuse Me Stool for Social Escape
What the Excuse Me Stool looks like is a chair with a built-in whoopee cushion that auto-inflates when empty and then, when someone sits on it...Ptttthhhhh! Time for the sitter to say, Excuse Me.
But that's not what the Excuse Me Stool is at all. Yi-Fei Chen's seating concept is far more profound, and a little less juvenile, than a prankster's tired trick. She designed the stool to serve as a form of escape from prolonged, awkward, or overwhelming social situations. As you sit on the Excuse Me seat, its cushion inflates slowly. This both symbolizes Chen's vision of increasing social pressure, and creates physical tension and discomfort that, before the seat bursts, requires the stool user to excuse themselves to retrieve the antidote for the swelling: a glass of water.
Once the Excuse Me Stool seat balloons out, the only way to return it to its flat form is to pour water into the transparent side tube. The water activates a valve that releases the accumulated air and pressure.
Chen calls the Excuse Me Stool a non-smoker's "cigarette," suggesting she'd use it as an alternative to pleading nicotine addiction when she needs to pause interactions and escape social situations.