mood management

2020/5.2, May 20 — Moody Installations, Fantastic Fountain, Plaster Color Fading and more
Greener Grass, Higher Tides
Last year in our May issue, I put a deliberately upbeat spin on market conditions that had prompted us at WaterShapes to switch temporarily to a bimonthly publishing schedule.   The tack I took did not go unnoticed.  In the aftermath of our announcement, of course, many of you let us know that you were four-square behind the magazine and offered to pitch in to do whatever you could to help – all of which was and remains most appreciated.  But there were others who, in various ways, essentially told me that
Pools of Light
If there’s ever been such a thing as a match made in heaven, swimming pools and landscape lighting lay a strong claim to that perfection.  Separately, they take little-used spaces and transform them to all-day hubs of activity and sources of constant beauty.  Together, however, the magic starts, with pools and landscape lighting systems accentuating each other’s virtues in ways that are tough to quantify or adequately describe. To landscape lighting designers and installers, pools offer a
Inquiring Minds
Watershaping carries us onto the properties and into the private lives of our clients, and it does so to such a personal, even intimate level that I see the value and importance of getting to know them to the best of my ability.  Invariably, that means asking the right questions and knowing how to listen and interpret the answers.This isn’t a new topic – in fact, it’s been about ten years since I wrote an early string of WaterShapes columns on
A Sense of Place
In his book Gardening with Water, James van Sweden called water “the heart of the garden.” I’ve had the privilege of working with him and his partner, Wolfgang Oehme, since 1986, and all of us at Oehme, van Sweden & Associates (Washington, D.C.) share an appreciation for the simple profundity of our founding partner’s words that is clearly reflected in the way we use water. To be sure, we occasionally design gardens without water, but more often it’s a key part of what we do and serves as a powerful foil to plants, hardscape, art and architecture.  We enthusiastically take advantage of the way it brings contrasts, reflections and sounds to spaces and exploit its ability to define destinations, invite recreation or provide gathering spaces.  We also work closely with all of the psychological associations it conjures within human beings – feelings of tranquility or excitement as well as sensations of the raw, regenerative power of nature. In our work, which spans the full spectrum of residential, commercial, public and institutional settings, fully 80 percent include watershapes in some form, from lily ponds, rills or cascades to formal fountains or swimming pools.  Occasionally these are stand-alone features, but when the situation permits, we’ll use them in
Refined by Need
Last month, I opened a two-part discussion on healing gardens, a trend in landscape design that’s become popular among managers at hospitals and other healthcare facilities who desire spaces where patients, visitors and staff can spend a bit of time in nature to heal, set aside stress and otherwise regenerate themselves. In the time since I first became involved with these spaces, I’ve also seen demand for these gardens – known in other contexts as “tranquility gardens” – grow among
Fulfilling Prophesies
If you’re paying even the slightest bit of attention to the world at large, you’ve probably heard more than you ever wanted to know about current economic conditions.   Indeed, everything that has happened in the past year or so with both our national and the global economy has made it hard for some people to think optimistically about the future.  These are perilous times, as some say, and in one way or another, I know we’re all being affected by what’s going on. But that doesn’t seem to be the whole story.  In fact,
Market Variations
The shopping mall as we know it first emerged in the United States in the 1960s and since then has become a dominating retail presence on both the urban and suburban scenes. They started out in larger cities but soon were found just about everywhere - indoors or outdoors, small and large, visually appealing and, well, less visually appealing.  Some are organized around upscale shopping and recreational activities, others around discount centers and manufacturers' outlets.  There are many that are filled with mom-and-pop boutiques, while a few are integrated with amusement parks.  Whatever seems likely to succeed, mall developers have certainly been willing to give it a whirl. At their core, however, every mall of any type has the primary mission of pulling people together so they can spend money on all kinds of merchandise; all the entertainment, dining and socializing are, in other words, secondary activities.  In this sense, today's retail forums are a modern version of marketplace traditions that reach back to ancient times and almost every human society - with lots of modern conveniences added for good measure. Today's malls, in fact, are
A Fine Romance
I believe it's fair to say that many of us who are now in the business of creating naturalistic watershapes have been intensely influenced and inspired by experiences we had as children playing near streams, waterfalls and ponds. That was certainly true for me as a kid growing up on Long Island, N.Y., where I was constantly exposed to beautiful natural bodies of water.  When I grew up, I found myself in the entertainment industry for several years.  It was exciting at times, but no matter where I went, I always felt myself being drawn back to