Book & Media Reviews

The Color of Uniqueness
Note: This book review was first published in the November 2008 issue of WaterShapes. Given what has happened in the economy since then, we think the book is just as relevant today as it was then — perhaps even more so. As 2008 draws to a close, it’s apparent that we are
Presentation Secrets
You hear it all the time these days:  Now is the time to improve all aspects of what you do for a living. I’ve taken that message to heart and, in striving to upgrade all facets of my work as a watershaper, have come to a somewhat shocking realization:  For all of the countless presentations I’ve made to clients, I’ve never taken a critical, disciplined look at that part of my job. In college, of course, I was forced to make presentations about class projects, but the focus was always on the design and not on the presenting.  Indeed, my instructors reinforced the point that it wasn’t how you presented ideas, but instead the
Timeless Landscape Design
When I was a landscape architecture student, my coursework on residential landscape design wasn’t much to speak of — just one project in a single course. In those days, in fact, expressing any interest in residential spaces made you
Design from Italy to India
There was a time not long ago when most of my clients wanted swimming pool environments that were designed to suit a design theme of some sort that was separate and distinct from the house. It wasn’t unusual, for example, for clients here in Texas to ask for outdoor areas that replicated Rocky Mountain settings or tropical lagoons. Those projects still come along from time to time, but in the past few years, increasing numbers of my clients want
Watershaping and the Issue of Trust
I’ve spent some time in the past couple months looking for a good book about trust. I ran into some clunkers along the way, with many of them impressing me with how boring and preachy they could be. But I never had
Uplifting Ideas for Trying Times
When times are tough, I sometimes find it useful to think about the things in life that I’m able to control while giving less thought to those I can’t. The plain fact is, no matter how troubling the news is or how tough the economy makes our working lives, nothing
Humility and Grandeur
Whenever I work with clients who want to make an artistic statement with their watershape or landscape designs, I commonly start by asking, “What’s your inspiration?” That simple question cuts right to the heart of the matter:  It prompts them to discuss their memories, preferences, influences and tastes while also encouraging them to think in artistic and even emotional terms about what they want.  This gets them excited about the process – and gives me some much-needed
Two Tales of Two Architects
Earlier this year, I attended the Texas Pool & Spa Expo in Fort Worth — and, upon arrival, was treated to an unexpected earful. As soon as I reached the show floor, I walked over to greet my friends at the Genesis 3 booth. Before I could even get in a good round of "hellos," David Tisherman asked me if I'd ever been to the
Maximizing Positive Feelings
Whether we think of them this way or not, watershape and landscape designs have the ability to create emotional responses among our clients. In that sense, we're actually in the business of provoking those feelings. When we do things right, the conjurings are positive and are at their best when we successfully forge links to our clients' treasured experiences. If we miss the mark by not properly considering
Remembering Ferruccio Vitale
By Mike Farley As someone who has spent years digging into the history of landscape and watershape design, it comes as something of a surprise to me that, alongside the luminaries who dominate discussions of the origins of familiar design approaches, motifs and styles, stands at least one practitioner who is not