WaterShapes

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On the Art of Construction

By Mike Farley

MikeFarleyBookNotes1lMost watershapers know that the work we do requires knowledge across a wide range of disciplines -- a cluster of skills that includes, among others, geology, materials science, structural engineering, construction techniques, hydraulics, architecture, art history, color

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Small Wonders

Book Notes logoBy Mike Farley

On several occasions through the past few years, I’ve been called on to design several projects that were both extremely small and extremely detailed.  I’ve found that working in these intimate spaces is a tremendous challenge, with every single detail taking on tremendous importance and even something as innocuous as

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Packaging a Designer's Messages

By Mike Farley

MikeFarleyBookNotes1kIt only makes sense that designers should promote themselves in ways that reflect their abilities.
When we look at the materials many watershapers use to market their services, however, it's obvious that everything from

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A Daily Dose

201101FarleyBy Mike Farley

As I’ve mentioned before in this space, my education in landscape architecture pulled up lame when it came to instruction in art and art history.  That shortfall has bothered me greatly as my career has progressed, but the silver lining is that I’ve been motivated to seek out sources I can use to teach myself what I think I need to know.

My latest find in this campaign is a wonderful book designed specifically to prompt personal voyages of exploration:  It’s called The Daily Book of Art:  365 Readings That Teach, Inspire and Entertain (Walter Foster Publishing, 2009) and delivers on its title’s promise by

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Selling the Dream

Farley artwork1 copyBy Mike Farley

One of the questions I always ask prospective clients is, “Why are you investing in a pool and not a recreational vehicle, boat or vacation home?”  Obviously, I’m not interested in having them rethink the decision to purchase a watershape; rather, I’m trying to draw them more deeply into their commitment, identify what’s important to them and use the information as part of my sales effort and, later, the design process.  

Although my clients will express themselves in different ways, their desires almost invariably boil down to wanting a place for family to gather and have fun, to share good times with friends and to enjoy measures of luxury and beauty.  In essence, almost all of them want to take the wastelands that are most backyards and turn them into private resorts.

I thought about how I approach these issues a lot after

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Finding Fitness in the Pool

By Mike Farley

It’s been important to me for two reasons: First, I’m convinced (as others in this magazine have argued) that the watershaping industry is doing both itself and its clients a disservice by not promoting the remarkable healthfulness of aquatic activity. I think this is a deficit we desperately need to address — and also that this effort must begin on a solid base of knowledge and fact. Second, as I progress through my forties, I’m finding that running is becoming more and more difficult because

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All in My Head

Book Notes logoBy Mike Farley

Last year was the worst I’ve endured since I was a novice in the pool and spa industry.  At the time, I found myself taking comfort in the fact that I wasn’t alone, that the recession was to blame for my ebbing sales and that we were all in the same boat.  Misery, it seems, loved company.

But I snapped out of it late last year.  I now believe (as I should have last year) that when you constantly tell yourself things are bad, you almost ensure that they will be that way and stay that way.  What I did to escape the trap was to

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Ten Landscapes: The View East

By Mike Farley

MikeFarleyBookNotes1iFor a long time now, I've been dismayed by what I see when certain of my fellow watershapers attempt to incorporate "natural" elements into their pool designs. The ubiquitous piles of rocks and the odd grottos slapped onto the ends of freeform pools are so common I can only conclude that

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Overcoming Fear

201107 farley artBy Mike Farley

I was recently rummaging through my local bookstore, searching for the next pearl to unveil in this space, when I came across a book that stopped me in my tracks just because of its title:  Art & Fear:  Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking.

This slim, 122-page volume, written by David Bayles and Ted Orland (Capra Print Editions, 1993), is so provocative and insightful that I think I could fill a year’s worth of columns with my observations of how what they say ties into what we do as watershapers.

Keeping it brief, however, let’s begin by assuming that what watershapers do is

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Distinctive Touches, Big Impact

mike-farley-book-notes

By Mike Farley

I do much of my work in the residential market, and it’s increasingly common for my clients to have relatively small yards for which they want something both unique and special.

In those settings (and in larger ones as well, but often not as critically), I’ve found that it’s the small touches that make the most difference. Frequently, it’s these simple decorative elements that transform designs into

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Art Appreciation, Day by Day

By Mike Farley

MikeFarleyBookNotes1gAs I’ve mentioned before in this space, my education in landscape architecture pulled up lame when it came to instruction in art and art history. That shortfall has bothered me greatly as my career has progressed, but the silver lining is that I’ve been motivated to seek out sources I can use to

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Pool Design as Art Form

By Mike Farley

MikeFarleyBookNotes1eIt’s unlikely that anyone back in 1992 would have imagined that the daughter of fashion designer Calvin Klein would change the way we think of swimming pools.

That might be a slight exaggeration, but to me there’s no question that Pools by Kelly Klein, first published by Rizzoli 15 years ago and rereleased late in 2007, was unique at that time in treating pool design as

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The Real Dirt on Soils

By Mike Farley

MikeFarleyBookNotes1dGiven the fact that swimming pools and most other watershapes are placed in the ground, I've long been of the opinion that it's incumbent upon all of us who design and build them to have a basic understanding of soils science and geology. As has been stated in this magazine and elsewhere more times than I can count, the nature of

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