Article by Vivion O’Kelly
George Bernard Shaw said that art is craft very well done. He could have been talking about interior design, because at the level these unique villas have been designed, they are all fine examples of the art of interior design.
All the villas have been designed by UDesign Architect Studio, and the exceptional, transformative design that they have created for Vista Lago has turned a development of luxury villas into a world class work of architectural & interior design.
All 18 villas in Vista Lago Residences have been designed and decorated differently. Not just tweaked to appear different at a glance, but very different, both inside and out, as if each were a separate entity totally independent of the next, which indeed they all are. If they have one thing in common, apart from each being exquisitely designed and built (and excusing the apparent contradiction in terms), it is the very fact that they are all different.
Achieving this is easier said than done. One’s tendency is to repeat in one place what has worked well in another, and to avail of what is at hand. It requires many years of design experience to see each unit of a whole in a completely original way, and only when the designer has resource to unique furniture, unique fittings and unique materials, and the creativity to know how to use them in original ways, will he or she be capable of avoiding a certain amount of design repetition. This is basically what makes each of the Vista Lago homes, and everything in them, unique.
Any guests staying in a Vista Lago villa will certainly come away thinking: I love that lamp, or that piece of furniture. I’ll go out and buy one like it. But they can’t, because what they see and admire is not available on the open market. And even if it were, it may not work as well as seen in situ. What is used in these villas is an excellent demonstration of knowledge of the use of new materials and products that have rarely been used in such ways before, either in private residences or in development homes.
Design of such unique quality requires a profound knowledge of every aspect of a home and its natural surroundings, from geographical location to exact positioning of the building in question, from use of both natural and manmade materials to fittings, wall coverings, textures, veneers, illumination and lighting, and all the other countless details that turn excellence into perfection. In short, one has to know what to use where and how, how much is too much and how much is too little, and where to get exactly what is needed. In years to come, all 18 of the Vista Lago villas will be showcases of design prescience: an example of the use of design concepts and materials that will have been ahead of their time.
Below we look at part of the interior design of some of the villas in this extraordinary development. We have specifically not numbered the villas below because owners can choose whatever style they prefer for their villa.
INSPIRED BY NATURE
The single outstanding feature of the principal living room in this villa is the stone-effect porcelain backdrop on the wall facing outwards. Each tile measures 120 by 240 centimetres, which one never sees in a residential home of this kind, but which was chosen by UDesign because it looks just right in this context. Everything else in the room is subject to it, leaving no need for further patterns around it, while at the same time not dominating the overall interior design of the room. It is basically a huge ceramic mural, inspired by nature and put together in such a way that it can be used as a backdrop without sacrificing any of its visual effectiveness.
It sets the tone for the rest of the room, where colour has been kept to a required minimum in the sharply contrasting piece of amethyst on the bottom shelf, whose purple colour is complemented by the more subtle tones of the cushions and, of course, the splashes of natural green in the bonsais and the plants on the terrace. All other elements in the space are neutral in tone, mostly light toned with circles of dark in the hanging lamps, and dark tabletop.
There is nothing in this room that should not be there, and it lacks nothing. The floor tiles are equally large, measuring one by three metres in surface area, and toned perfectly to fit in with the overall colour scheme. The slimline window frames are only 1.8 centimetres thick, leaving almost nothing between the viewer and the view.
TROMPE L’OEIL STYLE
The backdrop to this lounge room is a panelled wall covering in black, white and subtle greys that has been chosen to offset the coloured highlights in the rest of the room while also being a design element standing on its own visual merits. Without them, it would still make a fascinating backdrop. With them, it makes the entire space a fascinating exercise in the use of colour and shape, or to be more specific, in the use of just enough of it.
Look carefully at the use of colour here. Three circular glass lamps stand on a white shelf under the monochrome wall covering, in light blue, purple and yellow, and all the other colours in the room reflect these colours: the cushions and gold coloured overhead lamp in a more subtle yellow, the armchair and circular side table in purple and the glass candle-holders on the central coffee table in blue. And moving out to the pool area, one sees more cushions in the same light blue tone as inside. Here again too, there is a bonsai tree that adds a splash of natural green to the entire colour scheme.
The secret to this design is see how for one can go with additional colours, all chosen to work perfectly against the large monochrome wall covering, where a wooded landscape is suggested by undulating tones of light grey running from wall to wall.
BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL
This villa has a dominating image on the back wall that dictates all the other colours in the room, although the wall covering itself is quite different. Here we have a vast and highly colourful image based on flowers and plants, realistic in detail but not as an overall image. There is movement here as well, and a certain drama in the black background to the flowers.
So what colours work well with such a loud visual statement? The answer is less obvious than it seems. Naturally, any of the colours in the large image can be successfully repeated on a smaller scale anywhere in the room, but the designers have chosen to limit such colours in favour of the blue in the cushions and the light purple in the throw on the sofa, and they use a lot more gold than one would normally use in such a setting.
The ochre gold in the dining room chairs echoes the gold in the coffee table, and higher up the wall over the dining room table is a set of four wall lamps in gold. To finish off, a floating, twisted band of gold is shaped into a beautiful lamp hanging right over the dining room table, as if gliding through the air.
Minimalism, by definition, defies description. Like a Rothko painting, for example, there is not much to talk or write about, but simply to look at and enjoy, because its beauty is in its minimalism. But beware! Not having much there does not mean there is not much to it. It is far easier to design an interior that is lavish in decoration than design one that is not. The fewer items in an interior, the more carefully they must be chosen and used, and here we have a classic example of getting enough and no more. Even the paintings on the wall have not a hint of colour, but exquisite tones in monochrome, allowing the red chair, along with a single cushion on the sofa, to be magnificently red, and the sinuous wood sculpture to lose nothing of its natural beauty by its lack of colour and texture.
The oriental-inspired lighting over the dining table gives an ethnic feel to the whole, while the dark supports of the dining chairs echo the thin lines of the sitting room lights and strip lighting just beneath the ceilings.
These images give us some little idea of what the other villas will look like when finished, but it is both incomplete and inaccurate, because they are all different. It does, however, demonstrate the exceptional level of interior design and creativity that we can expect from the entire project.
We will be revealing the rest of the designs over the coming months, so stay tuned!
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