Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa, "Creating Water as Art."™

Aquatic Technology Pool & Spa, "Creating Water as Art."™
Pools as an art form - the way it should be!

Monday, February 28, 2011

How I got started in the swimming pool industry...

Internationally recognized swimming pool designer, Paolo Benedetti discusses how he got started designing & building the world's most exotic swimming pools.

A few years ago Paolo was asked to comment as to how he got started in the swimming pool industry.

So, How did you get started in the swimming pool industry?

I made a career move almost 20 years ago. Having had a contractor's license in another trade, possessing the desire to manage my own business, and wanting to utilize my business degree, I purchased an existing pool service company that catered to the affluent estates in the Silicon Valley and on the San Francisco Peninsula.

I quickly realized that managing a "pool janitorial" firm was not my cup of tea. Though I ran a very professional company, the clients did not hold the employees in great regards ("the pool guy" they'd all hear). I also realized that most of the pools that we serviced, were improperly plumbed and constructed using "marginally acceptable" practices. This was primarily because most consumers had been taught to "get 3 bids & to shop price." But consumers don't realize that construction, is not a consumer commodity like a TV or washer/dryer.

Those of us in construction know that there are different levels of workmanship... I realized that there was no one who was actually designing or building top tier vessels. So, I quickly evolved the firm into a remodeling & construction firm, selling off the service division. After realizing that remodeling meant that I had to inherit other builders' inferior structures, I began to focus exclusively on new construction. We still perform remodeling projects, but they must be extensive in nature.

I was confounded as to how a property owner of financial means ended up with such a lousy pool. I came to realized that most developers, general contractors, architects & landscape architects were in the "3 bids" mode... and that breaking that "compete on price" mindset was going to be impossible. I kept hearing "all pools are the same." This only reinforced my theory that they did not possess the knowledge to make a truly informed decision. Someone needed to provide them with the skills to correctly specify the design & construction details of an exotic swimming pool, so that they would not continue to rely upon the "low bidder" to "design-build" from a conceptual sketch (the proverbial "blind leading the blind").

So, I began designing and specifying my own projects. I began consulting with a select group of architects, landscape architects, and designers who relished someone with an education, who was articulate and possessed a knowledge of hydraulics, proper construction practices, architecture, art and world history. Most of those that I routinely work with now, will just set aside an area for the pool or water features. I am then just turned loose with the client. They know full well that what I propose will work with the site, the architecture, and the client's position in life.

I now focus primarily on design & consulting. I build out and manage a select few projects, wherein the clients appreciate a "no holds barred" approach to construction... a "we're doing it right, or we're not doing it" attitude.

Who are the primary influences upon your design style?

The primary influences of my design style have been a direct result of my personal fondness of contemporary architecture. While I can deliver older traditional styles, I usually infuse them with "clean details" (by removing the visual clutter and support apparatus routinely visible in so many projects). I frequently draw on my international travels and studies of art and architecture, to innovate ideas or features that I have seen. I now make it a point of venturing afield while on business trips to Europe, the Middle East, or Asia. I always add on a few days to explore the various museums, ancient sites, history & architecture, at least twice a year. I have also been influenced by the architecture of Legorreta, Barragan, Lautner, and Botta.

What does your pool look like and can you show us a picture?

My personal pool was heavily influenced by the works of Legorreta. It is rectilinear, has massive intersecting planes (walls) with water falling from them. The materials & colors are surprising, yet work wonderfully with the various structures on the site. I'm sorry, though it has been completed for years, I have chosen to keep it as an "unpublished work."

How did you become involved with the Genesis 3 Design Group?

I was "doing my own thing" in Northern California, as one of my friends said so eloquently, "a Don Quixote jousting at windmills." He had attended the very first Genesis 3 Design School. After that school, he said, "my company cannot build to those standards, but they are right up your alley!" I was glad to hear that there were some other like minded individuals, who enjoyed pushing the envelope of their creativity. Folks who relished being the "first" at developing some aspect of a project. I took one of the following Genesis 3 Level I Design Schools & it's all been down hill from there!

All kidding aside, I was relieving to find a group that promoted quality before price, design above computer programs & templates, and uniqueness above volume.

From those humble beginnings as a service company owner, I now perform international design & builds, perform consulting services and forensic case studies, and provide expert witness assistance to property owners. And, now I get to select the clients that I work for.... Over the years, I have actually told some "heavy hitters" that I wasn't interested in working for them. Primarily because they wanted to play me like a "yellow page cookie cutter pool builder" and not the passionate design professional that I am.

They didn't possess the passion to "create water as art" and therefore were not worthy of my efforts... or possessing that "part of me" that I leave behind on their property.

Today, I also consult for other swimming pool contractors who possess the salesmanship skills, but who lack the education, experience, knowledge or creativity to execute these complex projects and effectively resolve design issues.

Paolo Benedetti - Aquatic Artist
"Creating water as art."™
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