In his current role as global design director, Martin Ablaza is responsible for the creation of design strategies that define the next generation of luxury hotels at Marriott International. Concurrently, he provides oversight on key projects worldwide, working in close collaboration with owners, architects, and interior designers, in order to continually evolve the brands, and push the boundaries of hospitality design. Prior to joining Marriott, he was associate design director at Starwood Hotels, where he was instrumental in championing storytelling as a delineator for W Hotels worldwide.
Inventing and reinventing the brand experience is not new to him, having started his career at Gucci, where he designed flagships, retail stores, showrooms, and seasonal window displays for the iconic Italian luxury house. His approach to design is very much rooted in these early years in New York, right after graduating with a degree in Product Design from the Parsons School of Design.
“The Parsons experience taught me to work collaboratively within multi-disciplinary teams, and that design is only interesting if there is a strong concept behind it, driven largely by curiosity and passion. Working at Gucci taught me that reinvention and brand evolution can only be successful if you look inward, at your own history, which is crucial for such an established brand with many iconic elements and house codes,” he says. “The Starwood years taught me that you had to make the process fun and engaging, in order to sustain interest over the long design process that is typical of hospitality design. All of these past experiences point towards where I am today, and I am grateful that I can combine my passion for architecture, design, fashion, travel, research, and poetics into my day-to-day work life.”