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Darren Endo and Leah Sheely’s concrete water wall is located in Walnut Creek, CA. The base is made from sacked concrete and was poured-in-place. The walls are made using Stone colored CHENG Outdoor Concrete Pro-Formula Mix and the center piece is made using CHENG D-FRC with Stone SmartColor pigment and has small handmade ceramic tiles at the top.
The project was awarded Best Water Feature in the 2011 CHENG Concrete Circle of Distinction Design Challenge by judges Fu-Tung Cheng, designer (Cheng Design, Cheng Products, CHENG Concrete), Robert Brunner, industrial designer (Ammunition Group, Fuego), and Dan Gregory, editor and author (houseplans.com).
The challenge for Endo and Sheely of The Ranch Design Group was to create a water feature that would harmonize with their client’s existing sculpture collection and yet remain true to the their own aesthetic. The end result is a dynamic focal point of this Northern California landscape—the Tyrell Water Feature is both monumental in form and yet thoughtfully detailed to enhance the soothing flow of cascading water.
Project Objective + Client Feedback
The clients wanted the visually relaxing and sound-soothing experience of water in their backyard oasis without the costly and time-consuming maintenance of a pool. Sited outside their mostly glass house, the three-dimensional water feature called for a design that would allow being appreciated from multiple viewpoints. The Ranch Design Group, located in Concord, CA, wanted to create a water feature that echoed the sculptural and contemporary sensibility of the home’s architecture. The clients’ property showcases multiple sculptures, and Endo and Sheely considered those pieces when designing the concrete water feature. They also looked at sculpture garden fountains located in museums for inspiration, taking design cues from Art Deco, Art Nouveau and Mid-Century Brutal art movements. Endo and Sheely did their homework and it paid off, “They [the clients] are very happy with it. They are considering opening it up to the public for tours.”
Design + Expertise
This was a dream project for Endo and Sheely as it afforded the opportunity to express their unique style. The interlocking geometric shapes of the water feature along with the contrast between smooth and textured finished surfaces showcase The Ranch Design Group’s aesthetic and technical mastery of materials. Every detail contributes its part to the beauty of the whole, complete with the firm’s handmade tiles as a decorative element.
The concrete water feature was a challenge to create. Endo and Sheely didn’t want conventional fabrication methods to limit the design possibilities. Instead, they envisioned the water feature that worked for the clients and the site and then customized their fabrication techniques to build the ideal end product. Organic elements balance the strict overall geometry of the piece and small textural details soften the monolithic concrete forms.
Asked about the choice of materials, Endo says, “Concrete was an obvious choice for our clients. It’s one of the most relevant materials in design right now. There’s a small but growing crowd of informed people out there like our clients who aren’t interested in gilding the lily. Their idea of luxury is something sustainable, well made, architecturally appropriate, and as functional as it is beautiful. There’s so many great examples of its use throughout history; if you want something to stand the test of time, both structurally and stylistically, concrete is for you.”
The Ranch Design Group offers its own line of hand-made ceramic tile made right in their studio, and often creates custom tile for its concrete projects. All of the tile for this water feature was custom made exclusively for this piece. The Ranch Design Group’s tiles are simple and subtle, usually made in a bare-fired clay, in a color to suit the concrete. The Tyrell Water Feature and every piece designed by The Ranch Design Group is numbered with a hand-made tile with a signature stamp.
2011 Best Water Feature, CHENG Concrete Exchange Design Challenge
Recognized in the industry as the pinnacle of exceptional design and craftsmanship, the CHENG Concrete Exchange Design Challenge showcases talent and technical skill of the very best in creative concrete.
About The Ranch Design Group
The Ranch Design Group offers a complete range of design and fabrication services. Their specialty is creating dynamic environments utilizing concrete, ceramics, metal, and wood. Whether a commercial or residential application, they provide innovative and custom design solutions. The Ranch Design Group’s commitment is to meet the most discerning expectations in aesthetics and quality craftsmanship.