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10 year logoBy Brian Van Bower

‘For the best part of 20 years now,’ wrote Brian Van Bower in starting his Aqua Culture column from March 2010, ‘ trend watchers have tracked Baby Boomers and have kept telling us that, as we aged, we’d definitely become homebodies – so much so that the words “nesting,” “cocooning” and “staycation” have all taken significant places in our social vocabulary.

‘It’s a concept I’ve touched upon in these pages – numerous times, in fact – while observing that watershapes and other aquatic amenities go hand in glove with the homebody trend.  Always, my basic point has been:  It’s time to think in terms of providing our Boomer clients with complete outdoor environments that will make their home experience as pleasurable as they could ever want it to be.’  He continued:


‘[Many of my clients] have indicated that they want all of the luxuries of a resort property in their own backyards.  Even though they definitely can afford to travel, they tell me that they increasingly prefer the safe, familiar, convenient trappings of home, especially if the environment provides a fun place for kids to play as they grow and, eventually, as they start having children of their own.’


‘[In our conversations,] I start by asking clients why we’re meeting and maneuver the conversation around to asking them how they visualize using a watershape.  Armed with that basic information, I start to hone in on their more specific likes and dislikes and a range of other considerations as I prompt them to visualize, imagine and desire.  . . . Here are some of the questions I use:’


Have you ever had a pool before?  If yes, what did you like about it – and what didn’t you like?  . . .  I’ve found that this single question reveals a great deal about their water-related experiences and dials in on specific issues in the context of a lifetime’s spectrum of memories, some good and some not so good.’  


How important to you is the visual aspect of the design?  Of all the visualization-prompting questions I ask, this one really seems to do the trick with many of my clients.  I’ve always been surprised by how many of them will say that they really don’t care about how their watershape will look; instead, they’re all about how it will function. . . . [Others, however,] don’t care much about function and are mostly interested in making a statement.’  


Do you swim?  How important to you is aquatic exercise?  . . . Along with the cocooning trend among Baby Boomers, it’s clear that consumers near or beyond retirement age have turned to exercise routines and pursuit of physical fitness in a big way to fight aging and improve the quality of their lives.’  


Do you entertain?  Again, this may have been answered back when I asked about intended use, but as with the exercise questions, I’ve found that deeper inquiry here a bit later in the conversation can be quite beneficial to the process.’


‘When you prompt your clients to look forward and see how they’ll interact with the environment you’re discussing, the better you’ll be able to engage them in the process, meet their needs and make dreams come true – even dreams they might not have known they could have.’


‘What I try to do through the entire interview process is to make my questions or lines of follow-up questions open-ended, because there’s no telling where your clients will lead you if you give them the latitude to do so.  Again, it’s all about getting them to open up, and I’ve found through the years that a deliberate interview process is the best way to get it done so long as I listen well and establish a decent rapport.’


‘As I see it,’ Brian concluded, ‘this approach to interviewing is enjoyably hard work, often comes with surprises and involves conversational techniques that can be applied across the board in discussions of pools, spas, fountains, lighting systems, deck systems, outdoor amenities, outbuildings and much, much more.’  

How do you approach your initial contacts with clients?  Do you like what Brian does in getting background information that helps in design development, or do you take a different path?  Please share your thoughts by commenting below!


Brian Van Bower runs Aquatic Consultants, a design firm based in Miami, Fla., and is a co-founder of the Genesis 3 Design Group; dedicated to top-of-the-line performance in aquatic design and construction, this organization conducts schools for like-minded pool designers and builders.  He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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