Dec 072016

Latino Traffic Report (LTR) has learned that Alfonso Albaisa, INFINITI executive design director, took an all-new INFINITI Q60 to Havana—the first United States-spec car registered in Cuba in 58 years—to trace his roots back to his parents’ birthplace. Now based in Japan, where he oversees all four INFINITI design studios across the world, Albaisa grew up in Miami. This was his first opportunity to visit Cuba and see the curves of the mid-century modern architecture of his great-uncle Max Borges-Recio, including the Tropicana, Club Nautico, as well as Borges Recio’s own home. In the process, Albaisa may have also found the origins of his own design DNA that is expressed in the unique flowing lines of current INFINITI vehicles.

Alfonso Albaisa, INFINITI executive design director.

LTR first met Albaisa, at the North American International Auto Show in 2012 in Detroit where he introduced the all-new Pathfinder as vice president, Nissan Design America. At the time, he had had a hand in the development of products like the Juke, Altima, Maxima, and Rogue. In Detroit, the new Pathfinder didn’t receive any drama (it was billed a concept), which belied the revolutionary redesign of the all-new model. Gone was its truck-like look as well as construction. The Pathfinder (recently redesigned again in 2017) was now a unibody constructed SUV but Albaisa and the Nissan PR folks declined to declare it a crossover, but rather, a “next generation SUV.”

According to Albaisa, the switch to a unibody, and the accompanying rounded exterior, came from customer input. “They want the utility but not the bouncy ride and poor fuel efficiency of a body on frame SUV,” he said at the time.

“We have a display at the design center with postage stamp-sized photos of each member and their country of origin. The feeling of diversity is really about the stories that we share,” he said.

The next year, he had been promoted to his current position at Infiniti. LTR caught up to him at the Nissan 360 event where he shared his vision for the future.

Rather than trying to keep up with European carmakers, he said Infiniti would focus on what it meant to be a premium brand. He embraced the brand’s sensual fluid lines and sculpted shapes that set it apart as a “seductive provocateur.” For inspiration, he unveiled a trilogy of exquisite concept cars named “essence, etherea, and EMERG-E.”


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