The phrase “social distance” became common lingo early in the COVID-19 pandemic. To safely shop, work, or wait in line, people were advised to stay six feet (or two meters) apart. Graphic markers guided this new behavior. Solutions ranged from elaborate installations to hand-made solutions.

Content from the exhibition Design and Healing: Creative Responses to Epidemics, curated by MASS Design Group and Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum


StoDistante, Vicchio, Italy, 2020
Caret Studio created this urban installation in spring 2020. Removable painted squares allowed people to gather safely in the central square.

A plaza with numerous white squares painted on the ground one-point-eight meters apart in a lattice design for social distancing. The square is surrounded by buildings and has a statue in the center

Design: Caret Studio (Florence, Italy, founded 2014)

White paper poster advertising an art installation for social distancing using black squares in a 9 x 8 grid, each square in each row gets larger from left to right

Design: Caret Studio (Florence, Italy, founded 2014)


Sidewalk Graphics, New York City, 2020–21
Shopkeepers and restaurant staff around the world created markers for social distancing using tape and readily available materials.

Eight images arranged in rows of two, each showing a square or other marker made of colorful tape on the sidewalk to show people how to safely social distance in public spaces

Photographs: Jennifer Tobias

Featured Image: Design: Caret Studio (Florence, Italy, founded 2014)

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