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Making Headway

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WaterShapes LogotypeEric Herman

If there’s one thing about the world of watershaping that never ceases to amaze me, it’s the wide spectrum of skills, styles and project types that define the boundaries of what people engaged in this industry do for their clients. Recognizing that breadth and depth is always encouraging (as I’ve mentioned before in this space), but in today’s marketplace it’s becoming

quite important as well.

We all know that housing and the broader economy have hit a rough patch, but rather than wallow in doom and gloom, I think we should revel in how far we’ve come in the past decade with respect to design creativity, hold our heads high and dig in to do what we do best as never before.

The superheated market of the past few years enabled all sorts of marginal players to thrive as demand always outstripped supply. Simultaneously and much more fortunately, this prosperity also let a generation of watershapers devote themselves to excellence and to developing skills and acquiring education that made it possible for them to bridge the gap between art and commerce. In essence, watershapes have become go-to architectural elements in recent years, and it’s my clear sense that the design community won’t be able to put the lid back on the box now that it’s been opened.

It’s easy to celebrate that special pride of place when things are going well economically, but even with market contraction (especially in the residential realm), those who’ve expanded their skill sets and developed a firm vision of what watershaping is all about have set themselves up to survive and perhaps even thrive because they offer so much more to consumers than they ever did before. Indeed, I see this higher-minded approach to watershaping as a beacon leading us out of the darkness.

This is the sort of market that separates wheat from chaff. The pressure will, without question, naturally select those individuals and businesses that have gravitated toward quality and excellence and simultaneously marginalize those who only pay them lip service or, worse, ignore them completely. Now more than ever, people in this industry need to have an even greater interest in the ideals encompassed in education, self-examination, professionalism and the pursuit of excellence.

We at WaterShapes are caught up in all this ourselves. There’s no room now for any lack of vision, because it’s a time when the gap between mediocrity and excellence may become a chasm. On one side with us will be those who are bold when it comes to vision, design vocabulary and creativity: These are the ones who will advance despite temporary tumult in the economy at large.

When the crisis has passed – as all such crises do – those left standing will be the ones who have kept their eyes on the hallmarks that made them successful in the first place. At WaterShapes, we will continue to do our part by championing those ideals and shining bright light on the elements of watershaping that make it so worthwhile, exciting and enduring.

The race, as always, goes to the swift – or, in this case, the smart.

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