High Society

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Having taken the entire Genesis 3 Design School curriculum, Paul (aka Paolo) Benedetti is one of just 11 industry professionals to have earned entry into the elite Society of Watershape Designers. He attended his first AQUA Show more than a decade ago, but did not return on a regular basis because of its decidedly retail orientation. When AQUA and Genesis 3 aligned in 2003 and began to expand offerings for designers, builders and landscape architects, Benedetti gave the show another try. He tells us why he has been a regular ever since.


"I've been to AQUA three years running and it just keeps getting better every year. I was amazed, this last year, that the design/build part of the trade show had more than doubled in size. It was full of exhibitors showing unique custom materials. It's really good for the industry to be exposed to those kinds of things."


"The networking opportunities at AQUA are just fantastic. It gives me the opportunity to sit down with other Genesis members and catch up on what they're doing and talk about projects I have coming up in their corners of the world, and vice versa. Right now I'm doing a design project on an indoor pool up in Maine, and I'm collaborating with a Genesis member in New Jersey on dehumidification because that's his specialty. I tend to work with and refer projects to other Genesis members because I know they subscribe to the same philosophy and standards."


"The Society of Watershape Designers certification Genesis 3 offers has huge advantages for my business. Most architects that I meet have this preconceived notion about swimming pool contractors and the trade in general. To be able to say, 'I've taken this curriculum in architecture, color theory, spatial relationships and this whole gamut of programs,' lets them know that I bring a lot more to the table than just a guy who digs holes and tells people what to do. I can actually bring something meaningful to the project and contribute to the design. There's value added there. I think that is the biggest key with the educational program: It just puts me light-years beyond what my competition is doing."


"Every one of the Genesis 3 Design School classes has equal value. For example, the color theory course taught by Judith Corona is absolutely wonderful. I'll be the first to tell you that when I read through the synopsis I was thinking 'What are we taking that for?' But the course made a lot of things clear to me. We all know that water is clear and that what makes it look blue is the re.ection of the sky. So the color that the client is going to perceive is a combination of the pool finish and blue. Now when I'm designing, I'm putting those considerations into my color selection. If the client says he wants a green tint to the water, then I'm going to choose products on the yellow or light brown side, because if I start with green and add the reflection of the blue sky, the whole thing becomes a muddled mess."


"Mark Holden's class on architectural history was also fantastic. It really teaches you all of the nomenclature and allows you to see the whole picture of how so many things are interrelated. We were traveling in Turkey two years ago and in a palace in Istanbul there was a hand-washing device in the steam bath that we realized was essentially a wet-wall fountain. So back in the 1300s they already had wet-wall fountains, which are all the rage right now. People aren't inventing anything new, they're just taking something that was used somewhere else or that occurs in nature and applying it in a new way. You've always got to be shopping for new ideas and thinking about how you can reapply them, and Mark's class really helps give you the insight to do that."


"I try and make it a habit to sit in on Steve Gutai's hydraulics class every year. Even though I've got a good mastery of hydraulics, his course is a great refresher. There are so many people who are dropping the ball when it comes to the mechanical systems in the pools they're designing. Steve's two-hour seminar at AQUA is a good opportunity to see what I'm missing or something I might be doing wrong, and just to brush up on the basics and math formulas and theories."


"The design/build seminars at the AQUA Show are not just for those building at the high-end. Somebody who is doing midrange and lower-end projects can really come away with a lot of knowledge that will help them raise the quality of what they're doing now. There is no expense involved in doing something like getting rid of a plastic skimmer lid. There are a lot of things done in the trade just because people don't know there are other ways of doing it. People at any level can really benefit from all of the R&D the Genesis faculty has done in the high-end luxury market. By taking the sessions at AQUA, they don't have to go out and learn the hard way by trial and error."

Business Basics

Armed with a business degree and a diverse professional background, Paul Benedetti purchased a pool service company in the Silicon Valley at the height of the dot-com revolution and quickly made the transition to designing and building upscale projects. Licensed as both a swimming pool contractor and a general building contractor, he now specializes in creating some of today's most mechanically and structurally complex pools, designing 40plus pools annually and personally supervising the construction of eight to 10 projects. A Genesis 3 Platinum member, Benedetti has been the recipient of numerous national and international design awards. Recognized by the state of California as a "subject matter expert," he assisted in writing the state's latest swimming pool contractor's exam.

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