Hydraulic Harmony
Editor's note: Welcome to 'Direct Connections,' a new department that is now part of the WaterShapes feature array. What you'll find here are videos and multi-media presentations on technical and business topics -- including this podcast by Dave Penton about a key factor in system engineering.  
Les Fontaines Internationales
It's a fact:  Creating large watershapes for international clients is enough to send a project team's stress levels off the charts. You start with all the usual pressures of time, money and prestige that go along with performing on the global level.  Then there are cultural differences, not to mention local environmental concerns having to do with water usage.  And these factors can give you trouble even when you think you know what you're getting yourself into. Through the years, our company has learned many lessons about the importance of accommodating the cultural and economic overtones of what we do.  From our base in Toronto, Crystal Fountains pursues projects the world over and always strives to
Mike Farley’s ‘What Is It?’ Series Roster
Here's a list of all 36 of Mike Farley's 'What Is It?' videos.  The series ran for nearly seven years after starting in 2012 and forms a video catalog of trends in pool and spa design and accessorizing.    #1: Rain Fall - click
Organizing Chaos
The backyard-design process, it's been said, is something like completing a jigsaw puzzle: You start with a framed space and assemble available pieces to fill in the picture. But there are two problems with this common analogy: First, the number of available pieces far exceeds the physical capacity of the frame and, second, there are no precut tabs or notches to guide placement of the selected pieces. So you'd be closer to the mark if you said that design is like the worst, most challenging jigsaw puzzle ever - and even then, the typical backyard-design task is much harder. Shining a light on this process is
2019/3.1, March 6 — Hillside Prowess, Fish Addition, Design Components and more
A Toxin-Free Future
  The three most recent editions of WaterShapes have carried trailblazing articles by John Cohen on his quest to define and develop a toxin-free approach to swimming pool and spa water. I offered no comment when the series started, basically because the articles had to stand straight and tall on their own - but also because
Atlantic Water Gardens Offers Rainwater Harvesting System
Atlantic Water Gardens (Mantua, OH) has assembled rainwater-harvesting kit that include either submersible or external…
Working the Nitrogen Cycle
If you’re responsible for keeping up a watergarden, you probably know how important including a good balance of aquatic plants and fish is to sustaining a healthy ecosystem.  You also likely know that some basic maintenance is important, too – including chores such as
The Mathway to Success
I've always been puzzled by people who look at money as a taboo topic.   Within any form of business, of course, competitors are restricted by federal anti-trust laws from getting specific in discussions of pricing, overhead and profit margins.  But it's always seemed to me that understanding those factors in broad, general terms (which are legally discussable, by the way) is at the core of the success of any business - especially in the world of contracting. The reason pricing, overhead and margins are so critical is that they reflect your core values and those of your company with respect to both money and overall business philosophy.  It's my informed view that too many contractors severely
Turkey Revisited
It's a truism that almost all contemporary works of art are derivative:  The ideas have already been expressed in one way or another at some point in history, and all we can succeed in doing is to apply those enduring forms as creatively as we can. We can't invent the wheel, but we can redraw it, embellish it, place it in context and, in our own ways, improve upon it through the choices we make in using it.  To be effective in that sort of downstream effort as watershapers, it is essential that we understand the nature and origins of the basic building blocks of aquatic design. For years, people have asked me where I get my ideas - pools raised out of the ground, the small spillways, the drain details, the modular deck treatments, the color usage and the use of reflection, to name just a few.  "Through my design education" is the short answer, of course, but I can get more specific if we