Designing for Life


Exclusive design is an art form, and a great designer is as concerned with how we live as much as where we live.

Vivion O’Kelly talks to Jason Harris, Creative Director at UDesign and BRIGHT about the design of Vista Lago Residences – the new design-led, sustainable development in the hills overlooking Marbella.

Vista Lago Residences terrace
All the terrace furniture is low, and the trees and plants serve to frame the picture of the dark blue Mediterranean rising above the turquoise line of the infinity pool

The true value of a work of art is its exclusivity. It may be copied and it may start a trend, but it will, by definition, always be unique, because the artist designed it that way. That’s why the Vista Lago development, in its whole and in its parts, all eighteen villas, can reasonably be described as a work of art.

Vista Lago Residences is house design at its very best. The development comprises eighteen design-led luxury villas in one of the most beautiful locations in the world. Each has been designed individually, inside and out, and each has views of the Mediterranean, the Rock of Gibraltar and the continent of Africa beyond. If the true beauty of a design is as much in how it works and feels as in how it looks, then each of these eighteen villas is truly beautiful.

Vista Lago Residences dining
Dining takes on a new dimension in such a beautiful setting

“This is not a normal development”, say Jason Harris, CEO and Creative Director of UDesign. “There’s nothing normal about it at all. We did not design the villas and then find a plot for them. We looked at the plots, each individually, and designed the villas in line with exact location and orientation. We looked at the views and designed accordingly. Everything has been designed around that view. There are indeed multiple features of the designs that could be regarded as being of prime importance, but for us, it was how we were going to make the most of the view in this privileged location.”

And what a view it is. The gated community of Vista Lago Residences, which is within the gated estate of Real de La Quinta, stands on an area of land high over the coast, with mountains behind and a magnificent landscape below. This is largely untouched countryside, but close enough to the coast to get there in a few minutes by car. The location is as unique as the homes being built on it.

The timelapse video below shows the view from Vista Lago Residences change from daylight to sunset (in just 30 seconds)

“Inside each villa,” Jason continues, “we ensure that absolutely nothing stands in the way of the view. The floor-to-ceiling windows slide back into the wall, to bring the living area out into the terrace, which then becomes an extension of the house itself. Even closed, you see very little window frame. They measure only four centimetres thick, so there is hardly any barrier between inside and out. The designs being individual, some villas have double-height ceilings, but a common theme runs through them all. All are open plan, with no walls in the living spaces and necessary columns reduced to the bare minimum. All have large terraces with different areas for different activities, from sunbathing to dining to sipping drinks in the shade. All have ample gardens and infinity pools – in this case, true infinity pools where the view from the pool is of the Mediterranean Sea and nothing in between. And all the gardens are big enough for herb and vegetable plots, if so desired. The idea has been to work with the natural surroundings, and each plot is big enough to do that comfortably.”

Vista Lago Residences infinity pools and terrace
All villas have large terraces and true infinity pools

It is, nevertheless, the differences between the villas that make the development truly different from any other built in Southern Spain.

“Our design philosophy is to devote as much thought, cost and innovation to the interior of the houses as the exteriors. Every aspect of the interior design has been meticulously studied and carried out. In some cases, the idea for a room would grow around a single piece of furniture. Nothing here is an afterthought. Form and function are one, and they grow together in harmony. The idea of each villa starts from something different. A particularly beautiful piece of furniture or fitting may well be reason enough for us to design a room around it. It would be difficult to find somebody who didn’t like any of the villas, because they are all so different.”

Vista Lago Residences wallpaper
Wallpaper, but like you’ve never seen before. Design elements in the room are influenced by this amazing mural

There is no area of any of the eighteen villas that has not been meticulously thought about, analysed and designed accordingly, and each area, however small it might be, has been designed to form an essential part of the whole. The master suites are comparable with the best that any five-star hotel can offer. The open plan kitchens are simply a delight to work in, and each flows effortlessly both back into the house and out onto the terrace. And each villa has space available for its own gymnasium, entertainment room and office.

Vista Lago Residences open plan living
Open plan living with nothing getting in the way of the view

“All the furniture in the villas has been chosen or designed exclusively for them, and is thus unavailable on the open market. We’re highlighting original design in these villas, but we’re not saying that if you buy one of them, you’re buying into the interior design of that particular villa. The interiors of all eighteen of them have been designed differently, and you can simply take your pick of the interior that suits you best. The reality is that some people would never choose the items of furniture or the fittings we have installed, because they would not dare to do so. We have done it for them, and have shown how a bold design can work perfectly in a perfect setting. I want people to talk about the design of the villas, to get excited about them, to chat to their friends about them”.

Vista Lago Residences, original designs
Original designs with bespoke furniture alongside statement pieces from top brands

Such enthusiasm is not ill-placed. It takes a top interior designer to spot the unexpected results of unusual design. Colour plays an important role here, and although some of the villas could be described as conservative in colour choice, with predominant whites, greys and beiges splashed with spot colour, all display a level of innovation and creativity that the average home would find difficult to imagine.

“Colour tends to be a personal choice”, says Jason, “and we’re offering suggestions. In one of the designs, for example, a red chair was the starting point for the entire room design. But not only colour: it may have been a cabinet image we kept for a few years until we could find a way to use it, or any other furniture image I have kept for inspiration.”

Vista Lago Residences - All villas have a great design flow from inside to outside
All villas have a great design flow from inside to outside

And the climate, of course, dictates design to a large extent in Southern Spain.

“Because of the climate in this part of the world, we are always true to our concept of inside out living. Flow is especially important: the flow of air that goes through the house as desired, the flow of people as they move from one area to another, the flow of shape and colour throughout the house. It’s all a question of design, and we’re not just offering a villa to live in. We’re offering a way of life that has been designed by us for the future owner, whatever their taste might be. It could be said that we design for how you live as much as where you live.”

Vista Lago Residences, Marbella
Vista Lago Residences, Marbella - Clients can choose from 18 different interior design styles
Clients can choose from 18 different interior design styles

Enthusiasm is the mark of the true artist. Jason finishes by talking about how he builds a design from the bottom up, drawing his inspiration from the pieces he collects.

“I could just keep going forever. I find it very therapeutic, having all these things that I want to use and the opportunity to use them, so it’s great for me to have eighteen villas to work on. It could just as easily be thirty six. You set a level for yourself and you cannot go below it, so it’s a challenge to stay at that level. Some of the early designs I will have to revisit again, because I keep seeing changes I can make. I could just keep going.”

And so he could, because that’s what artists do, and that’s what makes each villa in Vista Lago a true work of art.

Vista Lago Residences, Marbella - Master bedroom suites have a luxury hotel feel
Master bedroom suites have a luxury hotel feel

For more information on this new project visit our Vista Lago information page or reserve your villa by contacting our Sales Manager on (+34) 682 105 002