Waters notes "profound changes" in several design areas, including connectivity, time and complexity. Of the first: "The world has gotten both smaller and larger. I grew up in a small town in North Carolina, and moving to New York to be a designer was a giant step - a decision my parents could never completely understand. 'It's so far away!' they said. Now I work with clients and suppliers in Italy, Switzerland Japan and India, almost as if they were next door neighbors. But as the world has shrunk, the markets for our design services have grown." On the subject of time, "it has both collapsed and expanded," Waters believes. "Today we move messages around the world with barely more lag time than the difference between seeing lightning and hearing thunder, and 9 to 5 has become 24x7x365. At the same time, the five seconds we wait for an image to download are unbearably long." Similarly, "designing a 60- page annual report for a Fortune 500 company in the mid-'80s seemed like a complex process. Looking back, it was simple compared to the activities required to design and produce a transaction-oriented website with thousands of pages, multiple databases and numerous online administrative tools. Today, we design complex websites with greater ease, and in less time, than the annual reports we designed in the '80s." Waters' web business includes work for IBM, The Wall Street Journal, Columbia University and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the latter one of his favorite recent projects "because of its complexity and the inherent beauty of many of the elements we had to work with."
Though such artsy accounts may be rare, Waters is still raring to go. "After 25 years, I should probably be looking forward to sipping pi¤a coladas on the beach," he muses. "But what I really want is another 25 years of design."