Although I was born in Málaga, I’ve called many places home, like Madrid, California and the Scottish Highlands. As a worldly science-minded guy, I’ve made it my personal mission to get out of my comfort zone, both geographically and educationally. With a degree in biology from Universidad Complutense, a master of science in Freshwater Ecology in Scotland, and a Ph.D. from Polytech Madrid University, I put changing our perception of what Earth owes us at the forefront of my work. Nature is at the heart of everything I love, from my artwork (manuelquiros.com) to my love for white-water kayaking, boxing and swimming. Beside me you’ll always find my shadow—my motorbike. I have been riding for 40 years now.
Swimming against the tide
Manuel’s success can easily be attributed to his penchant for pushing boundaries, letting go of fear, and swimming against the tide—instincts he passes on to his students.
Manuel has a clear motivator behind everything he does: giving Mother Nature the respect she deserves. Using different mediums from visual art (manuelquiros.com) to slow fashion and environmental science, he never tires of inspiring his students to embrace a different vision for Earth, beyond how it can serve human beings.
Teaching is at the heart of his extensive career, which has spanned across the globe and through various disciplines over the past 20 years and counting. He brought his beliefs to life teaching the science of sustainability to students, and fashion and graphic designers. To address a blind spot in his work, Manuel developed an official subject in Spain called Biomimicry, an technological approach that focuses on putting nature’s lessons into practice, what he calls a radical and disruptive method in design, even today.
Now, he’s an Adjunct Professor in the Bachelor in Design program, and Director of the Slow Fashion Lab, where he helps students create sustainable, eco-friendly and innovative proposals for the apparel sector.
As the owner of his own consulting firm (natureinspireus.com) and the director of climate “do-tank” Consenso por el Clima, Manuel hopes to make a big impact in Spain. Outside of the classroom, he writes articles and takes on guest speaking roles at international symposiums. To scratch his visually creative itch, he reflects nature and wildlife in large painting, graphic art, photography and small sculptures. With more than 10 solo exhibitions under his belt, Manuel credits his artistic edge to fulfilling his spirit when he’s down.
A career highlight for Manuel was an invitation to present an important lecture in the Colombian Amazon—an experience, he says, that touched him deeper than he could’ve ever imagined. To this day, he remains in contact with several local Indigenous communities after visiting the equatorial rainforest numerous times.
For Manuel, there is no reward without risk. The secret to life, he says, is unlocked by being true to oneself with no boundaries or fears. Mother Nature has never failed to remind him that he is an eternal apprentice. His life, thanks to the Indigenous people of Colombia, has been deeply touched by amanigua, an Indigenous term for positive energy flow from the jungle. If there’s one thing he strives to pass along to his students, it’s this: Those who don’t risk never arrive, and those who don’t make mistakes never learn.