On January 19 The Design Museum announced the winners of the 13th Beazley award. The most important award in the Beazley Designs of the Year 2020 went to the "Teeter-Totter Wall", a temporary installation consisting of three teeter-totters designed by architects Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello with Colectivo Chopeke and built on the wall separating Mexico from the United States.
It took Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello’s architectural studio ten years to construct the installation due to the difficulties involved on working on the border. The boundary between Mexico and the United States is one of the world’s most frequently crossed and most politicised borders, and the two architects had been working on the project since 2009. The boundary cuts off the relationship between the two countries, and the architects wanted to design a new way of connecting people and communities divided by the border. The architects found this connection in play, in a simple, childish game that adults often also participate in. They designed three big “teeter-totters” or see-saws, three bright pink boards slotted into gaps in the boundary wall. To do this they needed to work simultaneously on both sides of the border, in Juárez, Mexico and El Paso, Texas. The architects succeeded in the enterprise, and for just twenty minutes on 28 July 2019 the people of El Paso and the community of Anapra in Mexico were able to play together. Photos and videos soon went viral on the web, immortalising those “just 20 minutes”. The contest judges emphasised the project’s great symbolic value; the list of winners reveals that in all categories, the judges chose projects containing strong messages of change and demonstrating the ability of design to explore new ideas and address contemporary issues.
The winner in the architecture category was the ModSkool designed by Social Design Collaborative, intended to be easy to build and take down again in the event of flooding, responding to the needs of farming communities living on the floodplains of the Yamuna River in India. The judges noted that it is a modest construction that nonetheless has an identity of its own and is capable of addressing a real critical situation.
The award in the “Graphics” category went to an image we all know only too well: the 3D rendering of the SARS-CoV-2 virus created by Alissa Eckert (MSMI) and Dan Higgins (MAMS), commissioned by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The public could also vote on their favourite project, both in the exhibition gallery and on the internet site of The Design Museum, and elected the “Brick arches” created by the Hong Kong demonstrators.
List of winners divided by category
Graphics category winner:
Name: 3D rendering of SARS-CoV-2
Designers: Alissa Eckert (MSMI) and Dan Higgins (MAMS)
Product category winner:
Name: Impossible Burger 2.0 ‘A Better Meat for the Planet’
Designers: Impossible Foods
Architecture category winner:
Designers: Social Design Collaborative
Digital category winner:
Name: A Rapist in Your Way (‘Un violador en tu camino’)
Designers: Colectivo LASTESIS
Fashion category winner:
Name: Telfar bag
Transport category winner and overall winner:
Name: Teeter-Totter Wall
Designers: Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello with Colectivo Chopeke
People’s Choice Award:
Name: Brick arches
Designers: Hong Kong protestors
Images courtesy of The Design Museum