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5 Up-and-Coming Designers to Know in the Valley

From exquisite gardenscapes to fresh, innovative decor, five Phoenix Home & Garden Masters of the Southwest award winners highlight the next generation of great design visionaries who are already making it happen in the Valley.

Gina DeCosse

Interior designer, Mary Meinz Design
When Gina DeCosse interviewed with interior designer Mary Meinz she knew instantly they would be a perfect match. DeCosse, then a senior in college, comes from a family of designers and has been around the business since she was a child. “My grandfather and my father owned an interior design studio,” she explains. “My mother is also an interior designer and owned her own business.” DeCosse feels her strength is organization, and she prides herself in utilizing the solid work ethic she has learned during her career. “Residential design is a very personal thing,” she says. “I feel fortunate to have learned and continue to learn from the best every day.” Meinz echoes the sentiment: “Gina was born and bred into design, and so was I. Both of our fathers were in the furniture business. There’s less to teach and more to learn. We truly complement each other. We’re a dynamic duo.”

DeCosse combines a neutral color palette of taupe, gray and ivory, with whimsical patterned drapes and pops of rosy pink for visual interest in this master suite. A tufted headboard and painted brick fireplace add texture, while a chandelier and flameless candles create a cozy yet glamorous ambience.
Austin Larue Baker

Austin Schroeder

Landscape designer, Enchanted Garden Landscape
Schroeder understands the idea that the physical element is never about “things” but rather the relationship between positive and negative spaces and thoughtfully organized forms. “It isn’t about how many plants we can cram into a yard,” he says. “It’s about how a designer can create balance and tranquility.” The designer says he “had an itch” to work in a creative field for most of his life. It was during a visit home from college at Louisiana State University that he met landscape architect Donna Winters, who was redesigning the gardens of his parents’ home. “I was majoring in industrial engineering at the time,” he recalls. “When I heard Donna explain the concepts of design so passionately, something clicked in me, and I knew I wanted to do what she does.” As of last year, he works with Winters full time. “Austin is passionate about creating extraordinary results through landscaping,” Winters states. “He connects nature, design and the human component, which has a lasting impact.”

A putting green set amidst minimalist flat-roofed structures, a natural stone fire pit and low-back rocking chairs make an inviting outdoor living space.
An impressive natural stone doorway adds depth to the overall look of the property.

Catalina Ibarrola

Architect, Carson Architecture & Design
Influenced by the bold, colorful style of iconic Mexican architect Luis Barragan, architectural designer Catalina Ibarrola originally had her sights set on a career in engineering—but a beginner’s design course during freshman year of college changed her mind. “It brought together multiple disciplines like art, engineering and history, which I found very rewarding,” she recalls. Ibarrola first learned about Carson Architecture & Design eight years ago when her father, a friend of the family, made the introduction. Today, Ibarrola enjoys the residential aspect of her work. “Each project is so different, which is inspiring to me. I never know what the guiding element is going to be. It might be a unique piece of pottery, an interesting texture or a client’s favorite color,” she says. Architect Andrew Carson agrees: “Listening to the client and guiding them through the design process to their vision is key. Catalina keeps this at the forefront throughout each project.”

Views of Mummy Mountain make a peaceful backdrop for this home.
In a casita dining room, a glass sphere light exudes a contemporary vibe, and the tumbled travertine backsplash and alder cabinets give the space a rustic feel. Rift-cut oak floors, along with the client’s own table and rug, personalize the space.

Clayton Miller

Landscape architect, Greey | Pickett
Growing up in Arizona, Miller developed a passion for the natural desert. These days, one of his specialties is taking unpopular shrubs and showcasing their beauty. “My favorite is bursage, which is probably the most disliked native bush,” he says. “People find it ugly, but I love it. It makes up the majority of desert flora and provides a home for wildlife.” Miller, who is the son of award-winning architect Clint Miller, was surrounded by creatives as a youth and was often brought along to his father’s projects. In 2013, after graduating from the landscape architecture program at Arizona State University, Miller met landscape architect Russell Greey. “Russ and I clicked very easily,” he recalls. “It felt like a natural fit.” Greey says his passion for landscape design comes from combining outdoor environments with art and business. “When obstacles arise, we embrace them,” Greey explains. “We find it enthralling to solve issues that come during the process.” Miller adds, “What we create grows and evolves. This career path involves constantly coming up with newer and better design solutions.”

Michael Duerinckx; Miller blends natural rock and cacti with a crisply manicured lawn.
Steve Thompson; Desert rock and a variety of shrubs and succulents line this home’s walkway. Mountain views seen just beyond the roof create a look that’s cohesive with the surrounding terrain.

Nikka Bochniak

Interior designer, Earth and Images
Bochniak approaches each project with a playful use of color, textures, and layering neutrals in a way that isn’t boring or contrived. “It’s about finding out what is beautiful, livable and most inspiring to the client,” she says. Now in her 12th year in the industry, the principal interior designer says she never planned to have a career in the business. “I come from a family who are mostly in the medical field. I grew up wanting to become a reconstructive facial surgeon.” She discovered her love for design as an unruly teen. “I’d torn off the wallpaper in my parents’ powder room. For punishment, they made me redo the entire thing. After that, I began taking art and design classes to learn everything I could.” She first heard of Earth and Images from a friend she had worked with at a previous firm. “Nikka works with such confidence,” says founding principal Isabel Dellinger Candelaria. “We create melodies of textures, patterns and lines. We co-design in such a way that our clients love what we do.”

Pendant light fixtures and a neutral color palette give this kitchen by Bochniak a light, ethereal feel.
A custom tray ceiling, Spanish-inspired pendant lights and neutral-hued plaster walls create a rustic opulence for this dining room. The oak and walnut flooring features an inlaid metal design.

Gina DeCosse, Mary Meinz Design, Scottsdale,

Austin Schroeder, Enchanted Garden Landscapes Inc., Phoenix,

Catalina Ibarrola, Carson Architecture and Design, Scottsdale,

Clayton Miller, Greey|Pickett, Scottsdale,

Nikka Bochniak Earth and Images, Phoenix,


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