Interview with Jason Harris, Creative Director of Bright

U Design

Bright was set up shortly after its current CEO, Michael Rodziewicz, met his counterpart in UDesign, Jason Harris, asking for help in turning his Marbella house into a home. UDesign brings to this partnership years of experience in architecture, interiors, 3D visualisation and bespoke furniture manufacture. Together with Michael’s holistic vision of project development it makes up the cornerstone of the brand’s philosophy – cutting-edge developments in supreme locations that improve one’s quality of life. We talked to Jason about how it all started and what’s in store for Bright.

Was it a winding path to interior design and architecture?

It was more of an accident. When my wife and I bought an off-plan apartment, it had an upstairs that wasn’t properly integrated with the rest of the space. We rebuilt it into a duplex and it quickly became a makeshift showroom for our neighbours, who wanted something similar. It was all done sporadically. I was just doing what I enjoyed, but before we knew it, I had a dozen clients. We rented a small local to make furniture, and then it escalated. When you start an interior design company, you’re designing a room. But you can’t find the furniture that would work for the room because, of course, you have your own vision. So, the first employees we had were carpenters – not interior designers. That’s how we started designing dining tables – it was virtually impossible to find something that would be both luxurious and functional. And then we couldn’t find the perfect sofas, so we started designing and making sofas too. That’s how we became a furniture design company. Later we realised that rooms are not quite how we want them, so we started designing our own rooms, and villas for those rooms.

Jason & Claire Harris
Jason and Claire Harris

How did the idea of Vista Lago Residences come into being?

As we worked on private villas, we realised that quite often the community the villas are in is not ideal. Villas are often too close to each other or to the road. Despite an impressive price tag, the owners of these villas still don’t get privacy. We thought – wouldn’t it be great to create a perfect community? We wanted to design everything: roads, pavements, lighting and landscapes.

Vista Lago Residences is a logical development of everything we’ve done before, and when we found a plot that fit the bill and inspired us, we went for it. We could see that the shape and positioning of the plot would make it possible to have a project where all 18 villas have sea views and a minimum of 20 metres between them – which is exceptional.

Vista Lago
Vista Lago Residences, view from the living room

How do you integrate a project as cutting edge as Vista Lago Residences into the local scenery without ruining the Andalusian vibe?

We wanted the villas to be integrated into the mountain rather than stand out, so we have taken into account what’s indigenous to the area – trees, plants, architectural elements. We didn’t want the usual big white boxes to be plonked on the terrain, so Vista Lago looks like it is half covered by grass and lavender, organically growing from the mountain. When you look at it from the road it looks more like a landscaped mountain than an urbanization.

Why Marbella?

I have been living here for nearly 30 years and I’m still amazed. When you look at some villas in the Marbella area, you see that nothing like it exists in the rest of Spain, Portugal, England, or many other parts of the world. When you have a small area where a certain specialty prevails, a high degree of competition is created. This is what has happened in Marbella when it comes to the interior design and architecture of luxury villas. All these architects from Sevilla, Malaga and inland Spain come to Costa del Sol because that’s the only place where there is real growth in the luxury sector. Everyone here is trying to build a better villa than their competitors, contributing to a hotpot of creativity that keeps pushing the standard higher. La Zagaleta alone has over 400 of the best villas in the world. Marbella is the place if you want to design and build high end luxury villas. You would think that places like Los Angeles or Beverly Hills could rival Marbella, but they actually don’t – there isn’t enough land there to build luxury villas in volume, while the mountains of Ronda and Benahavís still have plenty of available plots. Now is a great time to be developing new projects here.

La Zagaleta
La Zagaleta, architecture and interior design by UDesign

With each new project you have to let it go and start all over again. How do you manage?

Design and architecture don’t feel like work for me. We get clients to continue to work – we don’t work to get clients. It’s all about innovation: once something is done you have to move on and improve on it. For that reason, I almost never go to see my finished projects: no matter how amazing they are, I’d still be focusing on all the things I could improve.

Michelin restaurants often have a test kitchen where they can play around with ideas for the next season. It’s not necessarily because they want to change the menu, it’s because they feel like they have to experiment, explore, see how far they can go. It’s very similar when it comes to my team. I see something new and I think to myself: “This is an idea. I can integrate an improved version of this into my next project”. With each new finish or a new type of tile we see at Milan Design week, I get more ideas. It’s a never-ending process, and I love it.

What’s next for Bright?

Believe it or not, the other day I was thinking even bigger than an urbanization – about a small village developed by Bright!

Learn more about Vista Lago Residences here

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