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WaterShapes LogotypeEric Herman

I love the fact that more and more people I talk to are referring to the bodies of water they create as works of art. At their best, watershapes do indeed possess all the aesthetic potential of painting, sculpture and architecture – and this is a point our contributing writers repeatedly make in different ways.

It’s satisfying to know that those sorts of messages are resonating with so many of you. What I find equally delightful and relevant to discussions of watershaping is the fact that this particular art form also is about fun and enjoyment – a feature that gives the special craft of watershaping a luster all its own.

Indeed, the “fun factor” is a simple and inescapable point that cuts across the spectrum of styles and designs: Whether we’re considering streams, fountains, spas or swimming pools – commercial or residential, large or small – every watershape shares the capacity to make people happy.

That, to me, is an inspiring notion. In a general sense, it confers a wonderfully positive spin to the work itself and is certainly something to hold onto as you go about your daily routines. And on a purely practical level, the fun involved in watershaping also spells opportunity in big, bold letters.

I can think of no better example of this kind of opportunity than the one reported by Paul Benedetti in his article, “Kitchens of Distinction” (click here). Paul builds custom, high-end pools for clients in California’s Silicon Valley. As part of his projects, he says, he often builds outdoor kitchen areas with varying combinations of amenities.

What I found striking is his claim that more than 90% of his clients are actively looking for the ability to cook and entertain outside – and that most of them want to be able to do it in close proximity to water. I’d dismiss his reports as a regional phenomenon were it not for the fact that I’ve heard much the same thing from watershapers in other parts of the country – all of whom extol the great rewards that have come from adding kitchens to the watershaping menu.

That this is more than a passing trend is evidenced by the fact that manufacturers of appliances and fixtures are now offering and continuously expanding product lines designed specifically for outdoor use. I look at it this way: Appliance manufacturers have huge vested interests in following consumers’ buying habits, and they certainly wouldn’t be tooling up to produce outdoor grilles, refrigerators and faucets if they thought consumers were uninterested.

I occasionally have conversations with watershapers about ancillary profit centers, and I’ve always been surprised by how many of them are available to enterprising spirits. But this outdoor-kitchen thing seems different to me somehow, because it’s not so much “ancillary” in the usual sense as it is an integrated part of what watershapers already do in organizing recreational spaces. And personally, as editor of this magazine and as one who has spent a lifetime attending poolside barbecue parties, I can think of no better activity to conjoin with the mainline task of creating beautiful watershapes than working with outdoor kitchens.

The simple fact is that people who love recreational or decorative water enough to pay to have it installed behind or alongside their homes are very likely to enjoy entertaining or dining outdoors with family and friends. As Paul Benedetti points out eloquently, taking advantage of this basic fact means becoming educated about these amenities and their proper installation. In that sense, investing in the education process along these lines is really no different than any other key element of watershaping.

Ultimately, when you stop to consider what watershaping is really all about, taking kitchens outdoors is really just a natural extension of the artistry – and one that will provide fun and enjoyment for your clients long after you’ve said your goodbyes.

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