“Estrada: Sailing Through Design”

An influential Spanish designer brings finished projects and the sketches that started them to NYC


The AIGA National Design Center welcomes its newest exhibit Estrada: Sailing Through Design, by celebrated Spanish graphic designer Manuel Estrada, with a gigantic clock-like image on its glass windows. The spinning dial is not a typical clock hand though, but rather a rust-colored European ship that rotates constantly to match the exhibit’s title.


Immediately, visitors can sense this isn’t a typical design exhibition. Finished books with Estrada’s cover designs line one of the black walls, behind glass cases containing scrawled-in notebooks and miscellaneous objects, including buttons and stick figures made from dollar bills.


An entire wall, from floor to ceiling, is lined with open pamphlets of Estrada’s preliminary sketches, and in the back of the room his finished magazine covers and spreads are juxtaposed with colorful drawings and pencil sketches. Estrada constructed the exhibit to show his design process, rather than just the final products, and because of this, viewers can almost see through the final pieces. According to AIGA, the exhibit “takes us from first ideas to final designs, guiding us through the stages in between where concepts and shapes change until reaching the most adequate conceptual, contextual and formal result.”


Not only is “Estrada: Sailing Through Design” a walk through the brain of the imaginative designer, it’s also an insight into Spanish culture. Many of Estrada’s works are connected to deeply engrained aspects of Spanish culture, including the 50-volume book set he designed called “El País. Serie Negra” or “Black Series,” which is the most widely distributed set of books produced by the daily newspaper El País. Exploring the exhibit allows visitors to see how so many of the icons images known to the people of Spain were conceptualized, executed and completed.


“Estrada: Sailing Through Design” is free and open to the public at the AIGA National Design Center through 11 October 2013. Visit the AIGA website for opening hours.

Photos by Valentina Palladino