The design that many praise for its glamorous side, its elegance and its undoubted ability to empashise style is also able to play an important social role. We saw it during the hard months of the epidemic, when the design world committed to cope with a dramatic situation that caught us unprepared creating medical tools such as masks of any kind, visors in various materials and much more. Another example of how design can affect the social context is the “Teeter-Totter Wall”. It is a project developed by Oakland artists Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello including three tilting, pink-painted swings that were placed between the steel mesh of the wall built along the border between USA and Mexico, between El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, allowing the kids of both countries to play together in front of each other on the swings.
The idea of making the “Teeter-Totter Wall” came out after the approval of the Secure Fence Act in 2006, US law aimed at strengthening security at the border with Mexico through the building of an 1100 km barrier along the border itself as well as the use of satellite monitoring systems and drones. The project’s implementation was long and not obstacle-free. In fact, due to the complexity of the place, it required ten years of work and the swings remained in operation only for 30 minutes. A definitely short time that was however enough to launch a symbolic message of universal brotherhood that Design Museum in London decided to honour assigning to the “Teeter-Totter Wall” the prestigious Beazley Design of the Year 2020 international award. To explain the reasons behind the awarding of the prize Tim Marlow, director of Design Museum, highlighted how the “Teeter Totter Wall” has encouraged new ways of interaction, leaving an important and creative reminder of how human beings can transcend the forces that try to separate them.