London's Design Museum awarded the prize to the project, created in protest of Trump's immigration policies.

Por Alma Sacasa
Enero 25, 2021

Almost two years ago, pink seesaws — officially called the Teeter-Totter Wall — were installed along the United States–Mexico border, allowing children from both countries to play together despite the presence of the border wall separating them. Now, Virginia San Fratello, associate professor of design at San Jose State University, and her husband, Ronald Rael, professor of architecture at UC Berkeley, have won the London Design Museum's 2020 Beazley Design of the Year award for their project.

The project was meant to be a protest against the division of the U.S. and Mexico, which former President Donald Trump exacerbated with his many immigration policies. "We are totally surprised by this unexpected honor, which we share with the Juarez based art collective, @colectivo.chopeke," Rael wrote on Instagram. "Most importantly, it comes at a time when we are hopeful for change and that we start building more bridges instead of walls."

"The project resonated with people around the world in a way that we didn't anticipate," San Fratello said in a video about the award. "It speaks to the fact that most people are excited about being together, and about optimism and about possibility and the future. And the divisiveness actually comes from the minority."

Credit: LUIS TORRES/AFP via Getty Images

The museum's annual awards recognize projects that have made an impact in the areas of digital, fashion, graphic, and product design as well as transport and architecture. Rael and Fratello's work was one of 74 projects considered, including TikTok's viral Renegade dance, edible drink capsules that replaced plastic bottles at the London Marathon, and a three-dimensional graphic of the coronavirus.