Comic/actor Robin Williams has one, and so does fashion designer Vera Wang. An infinity edge pool, that is. And it’s not just the rich and famous who appreciate these aquatic art forms, also called vanishing edge, negative edge or zero edge pools. Nearly every resort has one (or two), and many affluent homeowners commission them for their backyards.
So when did the infinity edge waterfeature first arrive on the scene? Some would say in nature, pointing to waterfalls or even the snowy white, terraced mineral hot springs of Pamukkale, Turkey. But for a manmade version, the Stag fountain, built in the 1600s at the Palace of Versailles, France, often is cited as one of, if not the, first.
Here in the States, the late John Lautner has been credited as one of the first to come up with a vanishing edge pool design in the early 1960s. The California architect not only included infinity edge pools in various residential designs, but also was the creator of the vanishing edge pool in the James Bond movie “Diamonds are Forever” (1971).
Early infinity edge proponents in the industry included builders Lew Akins and Skip Phillips, who studied this pool form and spent a lot of time perfecting it. For the president of Ocean Quest Pools by Lew Akins in Belton, Texas, that process began in the 1980s and, to date, he has built hundreds of negative-edge inground pools and taught courses on the craft. Phillips, president of Questar Pools & Spas in Escondido, Calif., built his first infinity edge pool in 1990, and the rest is history. Speaking of history, the first vinyl-liner vanishing edge pool (1994) is chalked up to Tommy Johnson, president of Johnson Pools & Spas, Huntsville, Ala. And Pier Garneri, president of San Juan Pools of Monterey (Calif.), is said to have created the first fiberglass vanishing-edge pool in 1998.
Of course, over the years, many pool builders have mastered the craft and added their own signature touches. It has been said that the infinity edge pool is one of the single most important design trends in the pool industry. Hard to argue with that.