As Infiniti's Executive Design Director, Alfonso Albaisa is spearheading the marque's bold new design language which is much more fluid and emotional, tailored for the non-conformist young-minded premium consumer.
Under Albaisa's lead, the new Infiniti design direction is about creating rarities. Not simply taking inspiration from the objects seen in everyday life or preconceived notions, but, like artists, sculpting masterpieces through emotion and spontaneity.
"It's about creating a personal experience through emotional connection," Albaisa says. "It's in the hand of the artist. This kind of artistry is not just craftsmanship in the sense of fit and finish and the use of authentic materials. It's more how you create the shapes. They're defined by the tailor's hand.
"We focus on creating rare objects. They happen to be cars. But the car has so many different meanings. It's a beautiful thing. The car is an emotional object, especially in the premium sector."
From loving boats to loving cars
"The first time I noticed a car really, I was probably about eight. My father was an architect and I used to go to his office and his office was between my school and my house.
"Once I got to my father's office via treetop climbing and bush – every way except the road, I would draw all day. But I would draw boats. I was in love with boats and I used to make little boats out of balsa wood and make little trailers and hook them behind the little cars on the freeway in my father's huge city models."
One day, while playing in his father's city model, Albaisa spotted a black-on-black sports car. Its paintwork was so shiny that the skies of his Miami hometown reflected dazzlingly on its contours. That moment that led to Albaisa's automotive design career.
"I started drawing cars almost immediately," he said.
The freedom and emotion of expression
Albaisa terms the Q30 Concept the beginning of great things to come for Infiniti.
"With this new expression of design we're seeing now at Infiniti, it's a good time for us as designers. Everyone from Johan de Nysschen [Infiniti President] down is totally behind us as we craft this new language that started with the concept cars of Essence, Etherea and Emerg-e and we're now bringing to the consumers through Q50 and the Q30 Concept.
"I think when you see animals like cheetahs and wildcats that tend to have a lot of speed, they have a slenderness and also a lightweight almost floating feeling when they walk. That for me is one of the keys to this concept with its seductive, sculptural body.
"Infiniti moving forward will definitely focus on the romance of the automobile. For me it's about the artisan. The man who when he's hammering the metal knows how to loft that shape – even with an English wheel. I love that."
Schooled in New York but destined for Los Angeles
Albaisa's 25-year association with Nissan and later Infiniti began with his education at art school in New York City.
Pursuing automotive design and a minor in figure drawing, Albaisa took an unconventional approach to rendering car designs. Unlike the other students, Albaisa created design visions on very large newsprint – 36 inches wide – using charcoal for sketching.
His large drawings are what caught the eye of a recruiter.
"They flew me to California and I saw the studio, which was fabulous. I had expected a design career in New York but was attracted to the freedom of California, so I accepted the offer. I had no idea that it would lead to my role today leading the evolution of Infiniti design."
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