PROJECTS Design Associates 
is a multi-dimensional architectural and interior design firm located in New York City. Founded by Martin Vahtra in 1997, the firm’s core practice is in the hospitality design area with an emphasis on restaurants, hotels and retail stores along with select residential projects. The firm has a dedicated staff of designers who are strongly committed to fulfilling the needs and desires of their clients while offering the utmost in creativity and innovation to each project. PROJECTS believe that successful design ultimately depends on creating a sense of well-being and delight for the end-user. Whatever the style, this core tenet is based on architectural principles that guide the office: balance, proportion, harmony, massing, through the exploration of building and building materials. PROJECTS believe that any function is better performed in beautiful and well-designed surroundings. The successful design of those surroundings is the mission of our firm. 

Currently PROJECTS is in the process of designing: Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare for Cesar Ramirez at his new location on 37th Street New York City and a new sports bar concept for Wolfgang Puck at LA Live. Recently completed projects include: NoPa and Rasika West in Washington DC for Knightsbridge Restaurant Group, Empellon a new restaurant for much talked about, Chef Alex Stupak in New York City, Forum a bar restaurant for Boston Nightlife Ventures, the restaurant L’Espalier and Sel de la Terre for Frank McClelland in the new Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Boston, Jai restaurant and Red 7 for Wolfgang Puck, the 40/40 Club for Jay-Z and Beyonce in Las Vegas, CP Steak Washington DC, Kitchen 22 New York City for world renowned chef Charlie Palmer.   

PROJECTS offers full design services, preparation of construction documents and project management capabilities. Also, PROJECTS has often been called upon to design custom furnishings, lighting fixtures, linen and china, as well as graphic design and identity. They have ongoing relationships with related construction professionals, including engineers, expeditors, equipment suppliers and furniture manufacturers.


A native of Toronto, Ontario, Martin studied architecture at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, receiving a degree in architecture. While there he was awarded the prestigious Alumni Gold Medal for highest academic standing, the Ontario Association of Architects Guild Medal for design excellence, the University of Waterloo School of Architecture “Purchase of Thesis”, and a Royal Canadian Academy of Art Scholarship. In 1985 Martin continued his study of architecture in Rome, Italy.

After completing his education he moved to New York City, where he collaborated with a number of architecture and interiors firms, gaining experience in residential, and commercial projects.

In 1990, Martin gained valuable international design experience while living in both London and Taipei. It was during this time that he first began working on hospitality projects. Upon his return to New York City his interest in hospitality design grew and he became a Senior Designer with Adam Tihany International. While working with Adam he was responsible for the design of some of that firm’s most important projects including: Aureole, Las Vegas and Osteria del Circo, New York. For Aureole, Martin received a nomination for the prestigious James Beard Award for Best Restaurant Design.

As PROJECTS DESIGN ASSOCIATES, some of Martin’s first projects were for the famed restaurateur Charlie Palmer. This has grown into an ongoing relationship that has produced many restaurant interiors. Over the years the studio’s business has expanded to include clients such as Wolfgang Puck, Frank McLelland of L’Espalier, Richard Melman of Lettuce Entertain You, Jay-Z, Nicole Miller, Michael Jordan, Gerry Hayden + Steve Tzolis, Caesar’s Palace and Starwood Capital, among others. 

His work has been published numerous times in Hospitality Design, where he was recognized as “one to watch”, Architectural Record, Interior Design, Wallpaper, Frame, Interni, and Metropolitan Home..

The firm has a dedicated staff of designers who are strongly committed to fulfilling the needs and desires of their clients while offering the utmost in creativity and innovation to each project.