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Design of The Year 2020
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The swings on the border between Mexico and the USA awarded.

From one side of a wall to the other, as if it were a game, indeed, it is in all respects. Teeter Totter Wall, the installation by Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello, consisting of three pink swings inserted into the cracks in the wall on the border between the United States and Mexico, won the Beazley Design of the Year 2020, a prestigious international award assigned by the Design Museum from London.
The work, presented in 2019 and created in collaboration with the Colectivo Chopeke, of Juarez, allowed the children of El Paso, Texas, and Anapra, Mexico, to play together, facing each other on the swings, despite the wall that marks the most crossed border in the world, among the most symbolic places of the “geographical” repercussions of political fractures.
“What you do on the one hand has an effect on the other. This is what a swing does, “Rael explained Teeter Totter Wall, in a 2019 interview with CNN.

The Teeter Totter Wall game

The project took ten years of work, precisely because of the complexity of the place and the swings only remained in operation for about 30 minutes but it was enough for them to become viral, as shown by the many images on Social Networks, with the little ones intrigued by the “game” but, basically, also aware of the exceptional nature of their gesture.
Rael, professor of architecture at Berkley University of California, and San Fratello, associate professor of design at San José State University, had the idea after the passage of the Secure Fence Act, in 2006, the US law that aimed to strengthen security. of the border with Mexico, through the construction of a barrier of 1100 km along the border, as well as with the use of satellite control systems and drones.

«Teeter Totter Wall encouraged new ways of relating. It left an important and creative reminder of how human beings can transcend the forces that attempt to divide them, ”said Tim Marlow, director of the Design Museum in London. “I think it has become even clearer, in light of recent events in our country, that we need to build not walls but bridges,” San Fratello told the Guardian, referring to the events on Capitol Hill.

The other awards of the Design of the Year 2020

Candidates for Beazley Design of the Year include Lee Ha Jun’s scenography for Parasite, Bong Joon-ho’s award-winning film, and the anti-cut vest with the Union Jack designed by Banksy and worn by Stormzy at Glastonbury 2019.


The winners of five categories were also awarded. The Telfar bag in vegan and gender neutral leather, defined as “the accessory of the decade” by Dazed, won the prize for the fashion section, while ModSkool, the “portable school” of Social Design Collaborative, created in response to the forced evictions of agricultural communities in India, was awarded the prize for the architecture section. The design product award went to Impossible Burger 2.0, while the 3d rendering of the Covid-19 virus by Alissa Eckert and Dan Higgins won the graphics award.


Social Design Collaborative has created ModSkool, a modular anti-eviction school for farming communities in Delhi that can be quickly dismantled if the settlement is demolished.

ModSkool is made of cheap materials such as bamboo and local craft techniques such as charpai weaving.

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