When is a fountain not a fountain? When it’s a pyramid! These tiered outdoor marble and stone fountains represent a timeless design of stability and elegance: a broad base, increasingly narrowed, until the pointed top. Throughout history, it has been the perfect shape to design large structures without sacrificing their physical integrity. And even though these garden fountains aren’t the size of Egyptian pyramids, they still share that common architectural ancestry, which spans civilizations and continents.
But as with all great designs, there is a functional side to the form. Looking at these two and three-tier fountains, it’s easy to see that this shape makes for a beautiful path for flowing water, and a series of increasingly big gleaming curtains that will appeal to fountain lovers and exterior designers everywhere!
Looking at this two-tier stone fountain, it’s almost impossible to miss the resemblance to a great tree or a mountain, where nature has adopted the tiered “pyramid” shape for herself. As always, the artistry goes back to a harmony between human creation and the wild world.
At its lowest, broadest level, the structure looks like a bench in a pleasant spot along a small body of water, where the fountain stream lands. It even features pottery designs in its corners.
Going up, though, things start getting a bit grander. Flanking the stone staircase effect towards the first dish is a classical swirling marble pattern: the beginnings of a floral refrain, and one step closer to the wilderness. It feels like we are slowly leaving behind the city square with its pottery, and heading into the garden.
The presence of flowers becomes more pronounced in the marble carvings above the first water dish, and we can see the leaves actually printed onto the stone of the fountain. Finally, the peak of the “pyramid” resembles a flower bud, or perhaps even an evergreen tree: we have entered the forest.
In contrast, this three tier marble fountain presents marine imagery, with its shape resembling seashells more than flowers. It’s easy to see how well the fountain’s flowing water would compliment this design, but also important is where it is placed: perhaps this outdoor fountain would look best in a sandy area without as much grass, or even next to another, larger body of water in your garden, decorating a pond or stream more so than other plants.
It is also easy to picture this fountain looking like a rocky outcrop emerging from the sea: indeed, we again are prompted to think of natural pyramidal formations in nature, and again artists are compelled to match such formations in their work.
Sometimes the fountains don’t resemble nature directly: sometimes there’s another degree of separation, as in this black marble fountain that looks like a pawn from a giant chess set. A chess piece itself may resemble an ancient piece of medieval architecture such as a castle or tower, and it is there that we might continue to look for this universal pyramid theme or other natural references (sometimes more directly, as in the case of the knight piece which obviously resembles a horse).
These two and three tier garden fountains are just one specific type of example of fountain designs harkening to various aspects of the modern world, sometimes in ways that we might not even notice at first. After all, who would look at a Christmas tree, the Great Pyramid of Giza, and a marble fountain, and see the same underlying structure? But as in these outdoor fountains themselves, all paths eventually lead back to nature!