Three Absurd Tools For Coping With Waiting Room Misery

Philip Lüschen’s Waiting Room Survival Kit makes light of pre-appointment frustrations.

Going to the doctor’s office wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the wait beforehand. Those waiting rooms, filled with bad magazines and a diverse array of germs, are places where time slows to a crawl, where minutes seem like hours, and where human misery sits openly under fluorescent lights. Philip Lüschen, a designer based in Amsterdam, thought it was a shame that we all went into these places defenseless (apparently the scourge of the waiting room transcends oceans and borders), so he dreamed up a set of tools designed specifically for coping with all those small pre-appointment injustices.


The items themselves were born out of painstaking research. Lüschen explains that he “waited undercover in different waiting rooms … as a patient without an appointment” (how’s that for dedication–waiting with no glimmer of hope for a prescription on the horizon). The designer quickly found his mind wandering. “I asked myself, is there a way to escape this space? And I started making drawings about places I would love to wait: a candy factory, the top of an iceberg, on the back of an ostrich … “

Lüschen says his first idea was to build a teleportation machine to remove himself from the premises altogether, but finding that too difficult, he started to outline exactly what waiting-room annoyances he hoped to solve:

1. I did not want to have small talk with others or be recognized by people I may know.
2. I liked to spy on others unnoticed.
3. I had the urge to be the next in line.

Thus, the designer’s Waiting Room Survival Kit was born. Item No. 1 is the Incognito Nose Stand, a hat rack-type apparatus outfitted with an assortment of Groucho Marx noses, allowing sheepish invalids to wait in anonymity. Then there’s the Waiting Room Survival Spy Book, an oversized pamphlet punched through with two eyeholes, offering the appearance of respectable waiting room activity (reading) while facilitating that one truly enjoyable waiting-room pastime: spying on other people. And lastly, there’s the Sneak in Front Tool, a life-size placard of three empty chairs on a large pole. Whenever you find yourself a few heads back in the queue, just whip out the Sneak in Front, obscure the others, and voila, you’re first in line.

Okay, that may not actually be how lines at doctors’ offices operate, and perhaps the other two tools in the kit aren’t the most realistic for clandestine waiting-room activity, either. But Lüschen’s gag items do isolate a few very real, Seinfeldian quirks of waiting-room etiquette.

“It is nice that it makes people smile,” says Lüschen, “but this is not my aim. … In short, I visualize my fantasies, which are not extraordinary at all, and in general quite recognizable. But by making these fantasies real and by placing the objects in the space”–that is, the waiting room–“I hope people get distracted, challenged, face their weird social quirks or start up their imagination … and in this case maybe for a moment forget about being nervous for the doctors appointment.”

See more of Lüschen’s work here.


[Hat tip:]