Another Show, Another Million Dollar Victor

A look into the first place design by Brad Holley of Randy Angell Designs.
A look into the first place design by Brad Holley of Randy Angell Designs.
All photos courtesy Reid Schindler

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At the 2023 Pool | Spa | Patio/Deck (PSP) Expo in Las Vegas, attendees once again gathered on the show floor for the Million Dollar Pool Design Challenge in order to see the top five submissions, hear live feedback from a panel of judges and vote for this year’s victor.

This annual competition is spearheaded by Mike Farley and Reid Schindler, two well-known and experienced pool and spa designers. The goal is to inspire young professionals entering the field with a challenge to design an exquisite backyard under specified conditions, without the constraints of a budget.  Each year, contestants must follow a fictional prompt, which challenges them to meet specific criteria for a specific client in a specific location. The 2023 scenario was as follows:

“The clients are currently building their dream ‘forever’ home on the intracoastal waterways in the Miami Beach area. They have just become empty nesters after raising three kids who are all in their twenties and hope to have a home that friends and family can enjoy year round. The space will need to be flashy enough to entertain some of the biggest names in the Miami area, while also feeling warm and inviting for their future grandkids and other family members to enjoy. The couple’s favorite activities outside of the home are collecting Latin-inspired art and decor, spending time at their local country club and taking their boat out on the intracoastal to their favorite dining and shopping spots.”

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Apart from the prompt, contestants were also required to include 19 different elements, one of which being a Lazy River featuring Riverflow Technology by Current Systems (the competition’s lead sponsor), as well as coastal views that didn’t take away from the client’s privacy, modern design elements and a Latin flair.

“One of the main comments this year was, ‘I don’t know how to fit everything in the designated backyard space,’” says Schindler. “And to be honest, that was kind of the point. When you look at some of these projects, you’ll see the diversified entries and solutions to that ‘limited space’ problem, but just know, that’s why we put on this contest every year, so that contestants are faced with challenges that they must overcome in order to be successful.”

This year’s finalists, who were flown out to Vegas and whose work was displayed on the show floor, included Kylee Polaski, Travis Cisneros, Sameepa Modi and Paola HIdalgo of AquaTerra Outdoors; Whitney Morris and Stephanie Carnahan of Old North State; Sameh Abbara of Regal Pools; Brad Holley of Randy Angell Designs; and Megan Trevino of Ohana Pools. The submissions were judged off a point-based system, rating criteria such as aesthetic quality, differentiation, functionality and realization possibility. 

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Following the live presentations, the audience was given a few minutes to vote for their favorite contestant. When voting came to a close, Brad Holley of Randy Angell Designs was awarded first place. His winnings included a $10,000 cash prize and a spot on the judges panel in 2024.

“One particular detail that many modern boats share is a feature called a ‘hardtop,’” says Holley. “It’s basically the upper-most shade cover of a boat, and it’s a signature of luxurious boat manufacturers to design a pair of sharply rear-swept support columns underneath it. The more you can make it look like the columns shouldn’t be able to support the hardtop, the sexier it is. After starting at this minor detail, the inspiration finally hit me: A yacht-hardtop-inspired shade structure was going to be my centerpiece… in a big way.” 

For more information about the contest, and how to enter in 2024, visit:

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