Infiniti Design Chief, Alfonso Albaisa: The Remainder of a Cuban Heritage

Infiniti Design Chief, Alfonso Albaisa: The Remainder of a Cuban Heritage


Annette Lavastide

In this era of globalized traditions, it is sometimes difficult to preserve one’s cultural heritage. And by saying this, I’m not supporting the idea of an intact, set in stone, cultural background that does not change and evolve. But the roots of that legacy, which are implanted deep in our genetic codes, can definitely be displayed in our behaviors and most of our creations. This effect is very noticeable in the works of those with multi-ethnic backgrounds, those whose DNA are like exuberant genomic databases packed with a fusion that cannot escape them.

This singularity becomes tangible in the elegant and fluid designs of Alfonso Albaisa, a car designer and the creator of the Infiniti Q80. His designs are pristine, embedded with a lustrous modernity, curvy silhouettes and an extraordinary sense of comfort. He also happens to be a Cuban descendent well-endowed with a professional legacy and the influence of aesthetics from both his father–an architect named Alfredo Albaisa–and his mother’s uncle, Max Borges-Recio–the creator of the iconic nightclub Tropicana.

His Cuban ties go beyond inherited skills and creativity. He is the great nephew of Carmen Zayas-Bazán; the spouse of Cuba’s National Hero: José Martí. Another of his ascendants was Rogerio Zayas-Bazán, former Minister of Interior for Machado’s administration in the 1920’s. It Is obvious that such a well-educated and successful background did not abandon him and also played a determinant factor in his own success. Naturally, the influence of that mixture between culture, genes and economic context can be very obliging, yet not determinant. Having it cannot fulfill our ambitions and dreams if we struggle to thrive inside an infertile ground. If so, those dreams can only be fed till obesity, but never materialized. If we take, however, all those traits and qualities and plant them in a rich and fruitful ground, the results can be astonishing.

Since special heed has been paid after Obama’s diplomatic visits to the Island, Alfonso decided to take one of his creations to his ancestors’ land, where it could reflect, as a cultural mirror, the kind of talent capable of emerging from such heritage. After the ordinary vicissitudes at the port customs territory, the Infiniti Q60 was the first new American car to ride the gutted streets of Havana in 58 years. It rolled from El Laguito to Marianao, absorbing a significant part of the values that gave him existence.

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