Graffica is a specialist online publication focussing on graphic design and visual culture in Spain. Last year, Spanish designers and ad agencies won a total of 29 Pencils at the D&AD Professional Awards, a real leap from the six Pencils of the previous year. Now for the first time ever, Spain features in D&AD’s Top 10 awarded nations. Here, Graffica take you on a journey around Spanish design.
For a very long time, Spain has been home to a wealth of talented professionals who are mostly unknown beyond our borders. A combination of complacency and lack of self-belief have generally been the reason for their limited international penetration.
As the D&AD Awards have demonstrated, Spanish creativity is everywhere, with design studios, often located outside the main cities, developing projects to the most exceptional level. So much so that Gràffica is unable to fit everything that reaches us in the publication.
So let’s take a trip around the Iberian Peninsula, like a design tourist on a voyage to discover Spanish Pencils as well as a country that oozes creativity from every pore.
Our first stop is Mallorca, an island that is celebrated for its beaches but perhaps not so much for its design. Atlas, the studio run by Astrid Stavro and Pablo Martín, heads up the Spanish medal count at D&AD with seven Pencils. This is almost certainly the studio with the biggest international reach at the moment and boasts an exceptionally high standard of graphic design. Three of these awards were won for its work for the Barcelona Design Museum.
Another two of Atlas’ awards were for Issue 20 of the magazine Elephant and for the redesign of Elephant for its twenty-first issue. This haul of awards for Astrid and Pablo’s team was topped off with another two Pencils: for the editorial design of PAIN, and the catalogue and leaflets for the Esment Vocational Training College.
Another studio worth watching is Eduardo del Fraile. Based in Murcia, a small city on the Mediterranean in south-east Spain, Eduardo always amazes us with outstanding work in every field of design: packaging, branding, editorial… One example is the Hefame Annual Report.
Let’s move to more northern climes, specifically Galicia. This is where the Desescribir studio is based which, for the second year running, won a Pencil in Book Design for the catalogue Günther Förg for the Luis Seoane Foundation.
From Galicia we move across to Bilbao – still in the north – where we find the Supperstudio team, who have demonstrated that a product as visually unappealing as pork rinds can also be given a fun and glamorous touch. In this case we’re referring to Oink Oink, a project that won them a Packaging Design Pencil.
Our route map has to go through Madrid, of course. This is where the Tres Tipos Gráficos studio is based, recognized for its project Ser Sangre, an exquisite book of photography in which Iñaki Domingo questions the representation of the family album.
Madrid is also home to Rodrigo Sánchez, an experienced editorial designer for newspapers and magazines at the head of Metropoli, the cultural magazine of newspaper El Mundo – one of Spain’s biggest dailies. His front cover designs have also been distinguished at D&AD 2015.
Still in the Spanish capital, we also need to pay a visit to the strategic design studio Erretres, one of the most refreshing creative ventures in Spain in recent years. Its rebranding project for Canal+ Spain won a Pencil in the Branding category.
Naturally, there had to be something for Barcelona from D&AD 2015. D&AD recognized the work of Dani Rubio and his project for the Hospital Sant Joan de Déu which won an award in Graphic Design / Wayfinding & Environmental Graphics.
This category was also a winner for the Grafting Architecture project developed by Bildi Grafiks, a young Catalan studio with a very interesting take on slow design.
In packaging, the work by Barcelona-based Estudio Dorian for Rawal stood out; the gin brand that immerses bathers in alcohol was pretty much guaranteed a Pencil. Estudio Dorian is a young studio (2009) but with two professionals of the calibre of Gaëlle Alemany and Gabriel Morales it already has a consolidated track record under its belt.
These are the awards that serve as a brief example of the excellent moment that creativity is currently experiencing in Spain, the result of expedience, small budgets and the disastrous economic situation, all of which have managed to incentivize the imagination.
If only more studios and agencies would venture to gauge their strengths at international events, we would be able to reveal many more cities (Valencia, Granada, Malaga, Huesca…) and design professionals who would doubtless be called upon to take part in the D&AD in the future.
If you think you have a campaign that deserves a Pencil, enter your work into the D&AD Professional Awards and see if our judges agree. When it comes to awards, nothing matters more.