Alex Proba's graphic swimming pools are "a celebration of colour and pattern"
Designer Alex Proba hand-paints swimming pools with graphic murals, including the pools of two Palm Springs houses and a mural on the deck of a public pool on Manhattan's Roosevelt Island.
These three designs showcase Proba's signature shapes and playful use of colour. One painted pool belongs to Marrow House, a private residence in Rancho Mirage in California.
The Rancho Mirage pool's design is an explosion of colourful curving shapes to contrast the geometrical mid-century house designed by American architect Donald Wexler, and the angular shape of the pool itself.
At the shallow end, oversized chartreuse-coloured petal-like shapes twist towards a large pink and orange orb tumbling down the pool's steps.
The deep end is painted in peaceful turquoise shades which are offset by a pronged pink shape that takes cues from Atomic Age signage.
Discussing her various choices of colour and shapes, Proba said, "it's trial and error. Most of the time it is a natural inclination for me to choose one colour or pattern over another and I do not overthink it."
Another painted pool by Proba is at Hill House, an Airbnb in Palm Springs, with a curved pool that perfectly compliments Proba's style.
"The shape of the pool is organic and it blends well with my work. I just tried to connect all of the aspects together," Proba told Dezeen.
The curved pool is decorated in bright pinks and oranges, painted on top of each other to form a cluster of colour alongside blue and purple plant-like shapes.
Some shapes have a single hue, while others are intricately decorated with delicate speckles. Thin black lines snake across the colourful shapes, adding subtle detail to the bold designs.
Painting the outdoor pools can be a gruelling process, said Proba.
"You are mostly in a weird position, hunched down. My knees were hurting," she said. "Palm Springs tends to get very hot too, so sometimes our paint trays melted."
For Roosevelt Island in Manhattan, Proba painted a vivid mural on the deck of a public pool for a project curated by K&CO and Pliskin Architecture.
A kaleidoscope-like mural of contrasting colours, Proba described her Manhattan mural as "a shape party."
The public pool's unique design also offers a playful solution to wayfinding. Visitors can plan to meet each other at a splash of turquoise, or in the middle of a speckled blob.
Painted during 2020, the mural also intends to be celebratory and hopeful during the midst of a global pandemic.
While each of Proba's pool designs is unique, all three projects are led by her instinctive desire to create dynamic visuals.
"I trust my gut, and 99 per cent of the time I go with my first pattern or colour. The times when I question myself and go back and change them is when the design actually fails."
Designers everywhere are celebrating the potential of swimming pools in public and private spaces alike. In Stockholm, Folkform has installed a glass and ceramic mural with over 1,000 individual pieces in an indoor public swimming pool. Lost House, a property in London by David Adjaye, has a bedroom with its own pool on a plinth.
Founded in 2013, Studio Proba is a New York-based multidisciplinary design studio led by Alex Proba.
Photography is by Madeline Tolle and Max Touhey.