Mirror fountains are a particular form of fountain in which the water generates a flat and reflective surface, which creates the illusion of being a single mirror, an immaterial place where the surrounding elements are amplified. Among the most requested types of fountains, the mirror one certainly deserves a place on the podium: it is increasingly used to decorate and redefine relaxing environments, as it creates a naturalistic frame in the urban landscape. An element enriches the quality of life and offers a fresh and relaxing atmosphere that favors social interaction.
Mirror fountains can be designed and built in different ways, depending on the location, size and shape of the pool. Indispensable in every project is the water filtering and recirculation system, which can be biological, to safeguard aquatic flora and fauna.
The design of a mirrored fountain begins with a site analysis phase, which involves studying the position, dimensions, and shape that you want to give to the basin, in order to enhance both the fountain and the context and to prevent elements that may interfere with the final result. The mirrored fountain can be made on a raised basin or flush with the floor – in both cases, the scenographic effect is always of great value – the aesthetics and the general and functional characteristics of the project contribute to determining the choice between the two types.
An essential element for a mirror fountain is the black or anthracite backdrop, or in any case of a dark shade, since by absorbing the reflections from the outside, it favors the reflective capacity and creates a clearer image. In summary, a tank of water with a black background reflects the images more thanks to the phenomenon of total internal reflection. The surface of the water acts like a mirror: the light is reflected inside the pool, but once it reaches the black background, it is again reflected upwards, thus creating an image of the elements present around the pool. The black background improves the visibility of the reflected image, as it absorbs most of the incident light and reduces unwanted reflections.
Mirrored fountains are widely used in contemporary art and modern architecture, often as works of art or design elements within exhibitions and events, but also in public areas such as parks, squares, and gardens. Furthermore, they are often used for exhibition purposes in international exhibitions and fairs.
For the 2022 Salone del Mobile, Forme d’Acqua has created a series of fountains and basins for the Kohler’s stand, an American multinational specializing in bathroom design and furniture. The general project envisaged the creation of a playful system of water jets and stainless steel collection and overflow tanks to serve the products on display, where water became an added value. The fountains created accompany and emphasize the design of the bathroom furnishings, so much so that the design of the stand was designed to allow a total view of the products on display from different angles. In the project, a rectangular mirrored fountain stands out, which acts as a pedestal for the products of the new Kohler collection: a total black, where the water perfectly mirrors the products, emphasized by the very slight swaying of the water that overflows from the four sides, an element that breaks the static.
Another project for which Forme d’Acqua has contributed through the technical creation of a suggestive mirror fountain is “Last Garment” by the artist Simone Leigh, exhibited in 2022 for the 59th edition of the Venice Art Biennale in the USA pavilion. The work is the bronze statue of a woman, depicted with her dress raised to her knees and bent over the water of the fountain, in the act of washing a rag and rubbing it on stone. The scene is inspired by old photographs by C. H. Graves, intended for sale as souvenirs, depicting Jamaican inhabitants at work. This tub is a modular structure similar to a swimming pool, with inlet and suction vents, rectangular in shape measuring 6 x 5 m by 30 cm in height. Here too, the choice of total black accentuates the fluidity of the water, which becomes both scenography and an integral part of the creation, evocative of a time suspended between past and present.
The mirrored fountain is given by a modular rectangular aluminum structure, which consists of a frame, necessary to contain the technical system and to support the waterproofing cover in black cloth. The external part is covered with a matt black powder-coated AISI316 steel sheet.
The mirror fountain is considered a particularly elegant and refined form of a fountain, able to give balance to the place that welcomes it because it generates an articulated system of harmonious relationships between the primary elements of nature an oasis that enriches the experience of tranquillity, contemplation and joy. This can be found in Milan, in the central courtyard of the Senato Hotel lobby: a mirrored fountain, only 2cm deep, which overflows on one side, along which white pebbles welcome the overflow. The fountain occupies the entire external area, which is used, with and without water, for art exhibitions, concerts, and vernissages. On its surface, there is a slight “wave effect”, whose slight dynamism breaks the static nature of the mirror.
Forme d’Acqua has realized the project is the architect Alessandro Bianchi, the curator of the project, who had conceived the reflecting fountain as “An oasis of sensorial and visual peace, inspired by the historical presence of the Naviglio Grande“, thus a minimalist and elegant fountain was created, a large body of water which underlines the spaces and gives class and sophistication to the hotel.
The mirrored fountain is often identified as a design element par excellence, because it becomes a blue point that enhances the surrounding architecture, as in Hangar Manzoni. It is a newly created innovative concept for a contemporary design studio and creative hotbed suitable for hosting events and promoting art in its various forms. In this project, we find an indoor flush-to-the-floor mirrored fountain “embedded” in the ground and covered with a dark gray resin that enhances its fluid element. The minimal beauty of the reflecting effect is enriched by the timed fall of a small drop of water, which produces an undulation that recalls the calm surface of a rippled lake as the rain falls.
We conclude our journey in Milan, where via Senato 14 we find Garden Senato, a prestigious large garden for events in the Quadrilatero della Moda, whose focal point is the outdoor mirrored fountain that houses the sculptural group “The Annunciation of Love” by Filippo Cifariello (Molfetta 1864 – Naples 1936). The work represents a naked woman, caught in the act of listening with a rapt expression to little Love, who is equipped with enormous peacock wings. The female figure is seated on the edge of a pool covered with a weave of wild rose branches resting on shelves decorated with classically styled masks. The mirrored fountain is circular in shape, the edge generates a small overflow and the reflected surface fits perfectly into the context, reflecting the contrast of the green of the surrounding vegetation with the reflections of the bronze of the statue.
Mirror fountains represent a sublime fusion between the majesty of water and the creativity of art and design. These works invite us to reflect not only on their beauty, but also on the profound connection between nature and human ingenuity, thanks to their ability to reflect light, surrounding objects and even the sky itself, making them works in constant change, always in harmony with the surrounding environment. Water, an essential element for life itself, is transformed into a means of expression that enchants and inspires.