Alumnus Antonio Martins: A Designer of Distinction


Academy of Art University School of Interior Architecture & Design alumnus Antonio Martins. Photo courtesy of Antonio Martins Designs.

We love when our Academy of Art University School of Interior Architecture & Design (IAD) students succeed. Hours and hours of hard work, critiques and learning all become worth it when a graduate reports back after a few years and has great news to share. Such is the case with Antonio Martins.

According to his website, Martins studied hotel management in Switzerland and worked for 11 years building a successful hotel career in Asia. From hotel operations to hotel design, he put his mark on some of the nest venues in Hong Kong, Bangkok, Argentina and most recently, Chicago.

His residential career began in San Francisco, while obtaining an M.F.A. in interior architecture and design from the Academy. Over the past 10 years, Martins’ projects have included residences in the Bay Area, Europe and South America. His commercial designs in- clude hotels in Palm Springs, Mexico, Brazil and several restaurants in Europe. Newell Turner, editorial director of the Hearst Design Group wrote: “Antonio has clearly tapped into the extraordinary interior design legacy of San Francisco. It’s fresh, original and I’m hoping a sign that designers in SF are putting this city’s wonderful sensibility back on the world’s interior design map!” 


A Cevicheria restaurant in Lisbon, Portugal. Photo courtesy of Antonio Martins Designs.


O Asistico restaurant in Lisbon, Portugal. Photo courtesy of Antonio Martins Designs.

Additionally, Martins’ work has been featured in Traditional Home, House Beautiful, California Home + Design, Dwell, Elle Décor as well as many other publications. 

Speaking with Martins, he revealed that he recently won the prestigious “Designer of Distinction Award” voted on and given by industry professionals. The award was for his outstanding designs of three restaurants in Lisbon, Portugal.

We asked him, as an alumnus, now having been in the industry for a number of years, in his opinion, what were the most important skills that students should have when pursuing their careers. “Certainly the technology courses are very important, digital drafting and Photoshop are super important,” he said. “But equally important, I think, is a deep understanding of materials and great hand rendering skills. Also concept development. It all starts there.”

During the discussion, Martins communicated one of the secrets to success after graduation. “Go to everything,” he said. “Whenever there is an opportunity to attend an in- dustry event, do it. Seek them out. Be active in the industry before you graduate. Maybe one out of 30 contacts may actually lead to something, but it’s a place to start. When you are still in school, be involved in everything. Any and every opportunity for extracurricular activities available to you, should be taken.” As a department, the School of Interior Architecture & Design provides many opportunities for students to be involved outside of the classroom. It’s never a bad idea to speak with an instructor and ask how to be more involved. 

Offering another piece of advice, Martins said, “It’s always a good idea to develop friendships and stay in touch with your classmates as well as instructors a er you graduate. You never know where an opportunity can come from.”

As a department, it is always such a pleasure to see one of our own excel in the industry and we are very proud to call Antonio Martins an IAD alumnus.