Sailing through


Steven Heller

Senior art director, The New York Times Book Review. Author.

Manuel Estrada makes the art of design look so easy. His work defines stylistic pigeonholes. He flies high and out of reach, bridging the often deep gap between the designer who makes art and the artist who is a designer. “The last exhibit of Manuel Estrada’s work at The Building (AIGA New York) was incredible for its ingenuity and skill. It made me want to be a designer again. It made me glad and proud the AIGA had the show.”

Ric Grefé

Executive director at AIGA Nueva York.

We have had a nice, regular flow of visitors and all are simply delighted with inspiration from the exhibit. Manuel has already had a wonderful influence on the New York creative community and on the public in general.

Alston Purvis

Chairman of the Graphic Design Department. Professor of Visual Arts, Boston University and Graphic Design Historian.

I consider Estrada to be one of the leading graphic designers in Spain, and his innovative designs cover a wide spectrum. For this reason, I devoted three pages to his work in the fifth edition of Megg's History of Graphic Design. Estrada is a major force in European graphic design, and an exhibition of his work would provide much inspiration for practicing graphic designers, graphic design educators and students, as well as for the general public.

Ivan Chermayeff

Designer and architect

The exhibition of the work of Manuel Estrada at the American Institute of Graphic Arts here in New York was a total delight. When one sees literally dozens of small book covers all at once beautifully displayed by a designer with whom one is unfamiliar, his working in another language and in another country, and finds each and every one original and totally refreshing without exception, one realizes one is in the presence of a master.

Lita Talarico

Co-founder and co-chair, MFA Design Department, New York University School of Visual Arts. Writer

Manuel Estrada's Sailing Through Design travelling exhibition is an intriguing insight into his output and thought process. Our SVA School of Visual Arts, MFA Design students were also privy to a lecture with Manuel and his warm personality, design skills and business acumen were inspiring for all.

The Exhibition
About the design process

“Estrada: Sailing through design” is an exhibition structured around the graphic designer Manuel Estrada’s visual diaries. The exhibition takes us from his initial ideas to final designs, guiding us through the stages in-between where concepts and shapes change until they reach conceptual, contextual and pure result.

“Estrada: Sailing through design” is also a journey through Spanish culture.

Mainly devoted to corporate identity and editorial design, Estrada has worked for some of the most significant cultural institutions and companies in Spain. Through his designs we encounter the writers, institutions and events that are at the core of contemporary Spanish life.

The source of creative impulse is a mystery. Ideas may come from anywhere, anything, any time, any place sometimes unexpected.

Paul Rand

Drawing is like juggling. Finding a balance is sometimes impossible, but this is the challenge I find most interesting.

Manuel Estrada

One rarely finds Manuel Estrada without his trusty little notebook in which he writes down words, draws images, and cuts and pastes different materials. After all, the creative act is something fleeting that needs to be captured in flight. ´Where Ideas are Born, Juggler’s Sketch book.´ Manuel Estrada’s most personal and hitherto unseen work compiled in 52 visual diaries and notebooks shows us the graphic designer’s creative process, where the artist involves the spectator in his curiosity and his pleasure in discovery. The exhibition sets up a dialogue between finished designs and the working process where drawings and collages take the main role. Exploring Estrada’s images is like taking an intimate stroll through his work where we stumble across traces left behind by designers such as Paul Rand, Ivan Chermayeff, Anton Stankowski, Roman Cieslewicz, Daniel Gil or Félix Beltrán. Along our way we also bump into a tightrope walker whose graphic somersaults create fascinating images that add to our collective imaginary.

Sonia Díaz / Gabriel Martínez

Exhibition curators


Exhibition Design

Estrada Design Studio

Art Direction

Nicola Petizzi

Design Assistant

Miguel Solak

Cristina Corrado

Ignacio Fernández

Clara Paradinas

Curra Ríos

Sara Martinez

Silvia Mocholí

Sergio Devesa

Albert Valiente


Sonia Díaz

Gabriel Martínez

Setting and design mechanism NY

Lisa Hein


Ana Diaz

Lucia F. Casanova

Susana Mesa

Hannah Schildt


  • Doors and Windows

    A display of Estrada's sketches and final design for book covers and posters.
  • I logo therefore I Am

    presents Estrada’s logos and related sketches
  • The Juggler’s Sketchbook

    A composition of 534 facsimiles of Estrada’s notebooks
  • Distilling Ideas

    An analysis Estrada’s research and synthetic methods by featuring the entire design process of the logo for the Repsol Foundation.
  • Worlds

    A series of sketches, animations, and wall drawings made by Estrada uniquely for each venue.


Cervantes TV
Manuel Estrada speaks for Cervantes TV about his exhibition "From idea to cover" and how the design process is developed.


Where ideas are born. Juggler's Notebook
Tour through the exhibition by Manuel Estrada in the "Museu do Design e da Moda" (MUDE). Lisbon.


Juggler's Notebooks
Mounting of the exhibition "Juggler´s Notebooks" at the cultural centre Caisa in Helsinki.


Manuel Estrada talks about the Spain Brand in this interview for Telecinco tv channel.


Where ideas are born. Juggler's Notebook
Tour through the exhibition by Manuel Estrada in the Atlantic Centre of Modern Art (CAAM).


Los oficios de la cultura
Manuel Estrada was featured in the edition devoted to graphic design in this program from RTVE.


Words from Juggler
Coverage on the occasion of the exhibition "Where ideas are born. Juggler's Notebook", made by Experimenta TV.


Where ideas are born. Juggler's Notebook
Interview with Manuel Estrada in his exhibition "Where ideas are born. Juggler's Notebook" in the "Museu do Design e da Moda" (MUDE). Lisbon.




Exibition “The Fooprint of design thinking” in Bilbao

In November 2015, the exhibition "The footprint of design thinking" became part of the 1st Design Week in Bilbao. At the building of Alvaro Siza that belongs to the University of the Basque Country which is located in front of the Guggenheim Museum.

Manuel Estrada's sketchbooks are a visual and textual record of his train of thought, a tool where he gathers, portrays and draws all of his ideas and scribbles as well as making collages with different materials.

Estrada’s sketchbooks are a register of his thoughts in a textual and visual way, an aid for the externalization of his memory, a file of ideas and information, a specific place for daily inspiration, a personal diary for a process of reflection. It forms the womb to grow his embryonic ideas through to a living, breathing, expansive design.

Sailing through the course of his pages allows us to trace the designer's thoughts, the trajectory of his ideas, from his first sketches to his final and almost completed projects.

At the exhibition, a workshop is offered to teach one of Estrada's fundamental messages; the importance of a good sketchbook in aiding the design process. The exercise generated awareness and positive results by creating a space of meditation, a space of connection and construction, as well as a narrative of ideas.

"Estrada Design Odyssey: 49 + 1".

Manuel Estrada shows 50 of his design pieces in the exhibition "Estrada Design Odyssey: 49 + 1" at the Harrington College of Design, in Chicago. An exhibition addressed not only to designers and design students, but to the general public; as it aims to bring the work of the Spanish designer closer through 49 book covers and logos, showing the final results along with their exploratory drawings. "The creative act, in general, and an idea for a cover of a book, in particular, is fleeting. You need to be very careful to instantly catch it" he says.

From the sketch to the final result, the design process is a long way to go for every creation. "Design travels to a destination you never knew beforehand. It's like a journey in which the designer uses every weapon at his disposal", he says. The exhibition 49+1" takes us, through 50 resolved cases, on a journey which is not always easy, though always exciting in the designer's case. Sonia Díaz and Gabriel Martínez, the curators, who are experts in navigating through the creative process, join Manuel Estrada on this trip. Both are professors and graphic design professionals.

In addition to the exhibition, in order to share his knowledge, a Workshop is held at the Harrington College of Design, where attendees have the opportunity to learn different techniques that serve the designer: drawing, typography, collage and photography. Zooming in on his process and sharing his experience, has led Estrada to show his work and methodology in Helsinki, Berlin, Lisbon, Miami, New York, among many other cities.

This exhibition is also adorned with the recent achievement of the "Good Design Award 2014" for the book covers of The Odyssey and The Iliad, designed for the publisher Alianza Editorial and awarded by The Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design. The prize was born in Chicago in 1950 and is one of the world's most recognised design programs.

"Sailing through Design"
New York

In the large window of the building at 164 on 5th Avenue, in front of the emblematic Flatiron Building, a huge black circle that looks like a clock, is displayed with a small ship circling it's perimeter, symbolising the creative process of design. Inside the circle you find the name of Manuel Estrada, and within the building you find his exhibition.

The exhibition, "Estrada. Sailing Through Design" is a show focused around the work process of the designer, Manuel Estrada. For the first time a solo Spanish designer, exhibits his work in the hall of the National Centre of the American Institute of Graphic Art on 5th Avenue, New York. AIGA is the largest association of graphic designers in the world, with 23,000 members and was founded in 1914.

Fifty original notebooks and five hundred notebooks facsimiles, which visitors can browse cover a huge wall along with over three hundred book covers and thirty huge black and white logos, designed by Manuel Estrada. You can also find a variety of phrases selected from the designer's notebooks which occupy the central space of the hall.

Estrada showed his exhibition to summer school students at Parsons Design School, and then later that September he explained his work to the students of the Master of the School of Visual Arts directed by Steven Heller.

The opening took place on July 17th and was attended by a large number of designers, including some well-known names such as Ivan Chermayeff or Mirko Ilic.

With the exhibition as a framework, on September 23rd an event about Design and Spanish wine, under the title Wine and Design, was organised by the Spanish Commercial Office, The New Yorker magazine, and Interior Design Magazine.

Portraits of Manuel Estrada © Donnelly Marks

"Where ideas are born.
Juggler's Notebook" Miami

After touring Europe since 2010 (Las Palmas in Gran Canaria, Helsinki, Berlin and Lisbon), the exhibition "Where ideas are born. Juggler’s notebooks" arrived in Miami and was exhibited during November 2012 in the Freedom Tower Museum of Art + Design, where it was on display for over four months.

The inauguration of the exhibition coincided with the staging of the Art Basel Miami Beach fair.

Located in a unique space, the Freedom Tower, declared a National Historic Landmark in 2008, belongs to the Miami Dade College and is used as a Cultural and Educational Centre. Works by Dalí, Goya and Da Vinci, among others, have been exhibited there.

The basis for this exhibition, which shows the design process of a project from the initial idea to the final result, is composed of 60 notebooks of original sketches, where words and drawings seek a balance between reason and intuition.

Taking advantage of the Miami show, the designer gave a workshop to the Dade College’s Design students, followed by a guided tour of the exhibition.

A walk among Estrada’s sketches can turn into an intimate stroll that reveals the footprints left behind by designers such as Paul Rand, Ivan Chermayeff, Anton Stankowski, Roman Cieslewicz, Daniel Gil and Félix Beltrán. On the way, we came across a juggler whose graphic pirouettes generate fascinating images that contribute to enriching our collective imagination.

"Where ideas are born.
Juggler's Notebook" Lisbon

A round table, chaired by Bárbara Coutinho the director of the MUDE, served as an introduction to the exhibition’s inauguration, which took place on the 29th of July, 2012 at the Lisbon’s Design and Fashion Museum. The Juggler’s Notebooks filled 1,400m2 of the third floor of the museum during the months of July, August and September.

Aside from Manuel Estrada, the round table participants were Luis Serpa, the director of the Temporáneo Museum and creative advisor of Portuguese industries and Government, along with the Portuguese designer, Henrique Cayatte.

Topics included "graphic creation in times of crisis", "the relationship between Portuguese and Spanish design", and "the influence of technology on design process".

Visitors were able to browse through 266 of Manuel Estrada’s original sketchbooks which were placed on a large wall.

Visitors could also wonder among large-size reproductions of enormous logos, printed in black and white, and see some of the rejected ideas during the creation process. In addition, book covers alongside sketches they stemmed from are displayed, including such sketches and illustrations created for the books published in Spain by the Portuguese writer and Nobel Prize winner Jose's Saramago. The authors book "The Elephant Journey" sketches and collages covered a 12m wall. Also, the spectator were able to appreciate a large panel where sketches and the logo of Jose's Saramego Foundation, which was recently inaugurated in the Casa dos Bicos in Lisbon by the MUDE Museum.

"Where ideas are born.
Juggler's Notebook" Berlin

In April 2012, the exhibition arrived in Berlin, where it was divided into two venues: "Von der Idee zum Logo" ("From the Idea to the Logo"), in the Design Transfer Gallery of Universitat der Künste, UDK, and "Von der Idee zum Buchcover" ("From the Idea to the Cover") in the Exhibition Room of the Cervantes Institute of Berlin.

The first opens with two large installations that were used as the image of other exhibitions on the past. The protagonists of the display are books and magazine covers and their design processes.

More than 700 of Manuel Estrada’s sketchbooks, cover a large 12-metre wall, and you can also find cases which contain other notebooks and objects, which served as the basis for the creation of book covers. Large posters can be found alongside the books and magazines arranged on the wall, as well as texts and drawings drawn directly by the designer on the gallery walls.

In the second venue, the exhibition entitled "From the Idea to the Logo" includes over 20 large black and white panels, which are examples of Estrada’s work as a logo designer. The reverse sides of these large panels display preparatory sketches and drawings.

The Workshop ran by Estrada for the Design students from the UDK Arts University of Berlin was entitled Reason, Instinct and Design.

"Juggler's Notebooks. Spain Meets Finland".

On the 9th of January 2012, Manuel Estrada’s exhibition Juggler´s Notebooks. Spain meets Finland was inaugurated at the International Caisa Cultural Centre in Helsinki and displayed for three months. This exhibition was one of the first events in the World Design Capital. The Helsinki 2012 programmes welcomed Estrada to add a Spanish touch to the numerous activities staged in the Finnish capital.

On one of the walls, 22 sketches, posters and book covers, as well as some of his finished projects, are displayed which allow us to catch a glimpse of the different realities of design.

The room also contained several digital screens; where Estrada's creative processes could be seen in detail through several videos, including for example, the logo for the Repsol Foundation.

Visitors were able to walk among large panels displaying logos and, on their reverse side, they were able to see large sketches and drawings taken from Manuel Estrada's original notebooks.

A conference given by Manuel Estrada at Aalto University, with the collaboration of the Trade Commission of Spain, was held during one of designers stays in Helsinki. It was entitled Design and Country Image - The Case of Spain and addressed the subject of the Spanish trademark.

Estrada also gave a workshop to Design students from UDK entitled How to design book covers, which was held over three days.

"Where ideas are born. Juggler's Notebooks".
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Manuel Estrada’s exhibition started out at the CAAM, the Atlantic Centre for Modern Art, in Las Palmas of Gran Canaria, in June 2010.

This emblematic museum designed by the architect Saenz de Oiza, is currently exhibiting a permanent collection which comprises 2,600 pieces of artwork that come from America, Africa and Europe.

In the past, Estrada has shown his work in some of the most important cities in the design world, such as Milan, Tokyo and New York.

In the central patio of the Atlantic Centre for Modern Art, with a height of 15 metres, visitors were able to contemplate a large installation comprising a waterfall of thousands of white sheets of paper falling on pencils. This montage represents the title of the exhibition "Where ideas are born".

The posters, books and magazine covers, are doors and windows which allow us to catch a glimpse of different design realities. In one of the exhibition’s large rooms, a wall is used to display 50 sketches of posters and book covers, as well as others that are finished. Opposite them, as if they were placed on the designer’s desk, hand-drawn sketches comment on the designs.

In this room, 23 huge panels were hang from the ceiling, on one side, large black and white logos, and on their reverse sides, sketches illustrating the processes behind the design.