By Shani Rodan
Manuel Miranda is a graphic designer based in the Lower East Side of New York City. For the last eight years he has ran his own practice and is currently working on projects for the NYCEDC (Economic Development Corporation), the Sheila Johnson Designer Center at Parsons, the Center for Architecture, Spitzer School of Architecture at City College, Center for Urban Pedagogy, ArtPlace America, and Gehl Institute. He is a critic in the MFA program in graphic design at the Yale University School of Art and a member of the Public Design Commission of New York City.
We spoke with Miranda about the pivotal milestones in his career journey and how design has shaped his career trajectory.
Shani Rodan: When did you realize you were interested in design?
Manuel Miranda: Graphic design was always important to me, and I was in contact with it primarily through mass youth culture artifacts such as books, comics, cassettes, records, posters, movies, skateboards, and clothes. I didn’t realize until I was much older that design was something I wanted to do and might potentially be good enough to make a career out of it.
SR: What was your first job?
MM: My first-full time job as a designer was at 2×4, Inc. I was there for four years and primarily worked on institutional and corporate identity design, as well as signage, interactive, and exhibition projects.
SR: How you did get to where you are now?
MM: On one hand, I’m very open and adaptable and on the other, I’m stubborn and consistent. I’ve been able to work across many contexts but somehow I am able maintain an internal sense of continuity throughout those different environments. This helps, as being a working designer can feel schizophrenic at times. Also, I like to learn, and I’m always learning with design.
I realized that design, not just the final output but the process as well, touches many people.
SR: When did you realize you could make a difference through design?
MM: One of the first projects I worked on at 2×4 in 2006, was signage for the Toledo Museum Glass Pavilion, which was designed by SANAA architects. In the days leading up to the opening, all of the consultants for the project were on site working in a mad rush to bring the building to life: construction workers, architects, museum directors, vinyl installers, window cleaners, floor shiners, and graphic designers. It all came together, and it was beautiful to be part of such a public project with people from a wide spectrum of trades, expertise, and social classes. Through this experience, I realized that design, not just the final output but the process as well, touches many people.