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Pristine Pools' Greg Darvin On Pool Fashion And Function

Introducing Curbed Hamptons’ new series of interviews by journalist/blogger Cara Greenberg with locals in the vanguard of many fields, including art, architecture, design, and landscaping.

For our first outing, we talked with Greg Darvin, who founded Pristine Pools in 1992, about the ultimate liquid asset. His East Hampton-based company creates some of the most dramatic and innovative custom pools around.

How did you get into the swimming pool business?

It was a summer job that never ended. I grew up in East Hampton when swimming pools were sort of a novelty and very basic. My formal education was in economics and finance. Halfway through, I knew Wall Street wasn’t for me. I came back in the early ‘90s when construction was booming. The market drove the business. It’s become much more interesting. If I had to build the same pool in every backyard, I’d go crazy.

How does a pool contribute to the overall design of a property?

A swimming pool has to complement the house and landscape. If you have a very modern, linear house, you might want hyper-modern details like an infinity edge. For a traditional house with a rustic backyard, you could put in an organic shaped pool with curves, and make it look like a natural feature.
What’s the difference between an infinity pool, a negative edge pool, and a perimeter overflow pool?

It’s crossover terminology. Infinity and negative edge are the same: the horizon [of a nearby body of water] blends into the swimming pool. But not everyone has a breathtaking water view, so we’ve started to use infinity edge as a landscape detail. It creates a peaceful disappearing edge rather than standard coping, which is a line or separation between pool and landscape. An infinity edge melds the two together and creates really nice reflections. Perimeter overflow is water flowing over the coping and disappearing into a slot drain in the patio.

Are saltwater pools a big trend?

At this point, it’s become the norm. I would say 85% of our pools are saltwater. It’s not the same as seawater. It’s a saline-treated pool. The water is soft, you don’t taste the salt, it doesn’t dry your skin or burn your eyes. The chlorine you’re used to is developed in a lab. This is chloride (NaCl) in a more natural form. It’s a more positive way to disinfect a swimming pool.

Stonework is an outstanding element in your designs. What kinds of stones do you use?

Most people go with the Pennsylvania stacked slate wall stone. We also use large stones called Montauk boulders. They’re native to the area, whatever the glacier dumped on us. It’s not an overly finished look, so it only works in certain situations.

What’s different about swimming pools from when you started in 1992?

They’ve become aesthetic features, much more complicated and sophisticated. Oftentimes, the pool and patio are the most important aspect of the house. Agents say those are the spaces that sell homes, that are most important to clients these days. People have kitchens and bathrooms in their primary residences, but the backyard, barbecue, and swimming pool are why they’re coming out here.

· Pristine Pools [Official Site]