Product designer turned premier sculptor

July 30, 2009 6:51:57 PM PDT
A Silicon Valley product designer who had a mid-life crisis has emerged as one of the nation's premier sculptors of massive bronze and steel works. His second career is about geometry and nature in design.

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Roger Stoller makes last-minute touch-ups to his stainless steel sculpture 30 feet high, 10.5 feet wide in the lobby of the new Jack London Market, which will open next year on the waterfront.

"The ocean is the inspiration for this piece with these rippling forms developing a surface and droplets falling in, and then the interactivity of the marketplace is all this wild metal," says Stoller.

He calls it "Boundless Pond." It took a year to create and it looks like a solid piece, but there are actually 10 panels that interact, securely anchored to the wall. The installation took weeks.

"Somehow the scale of this piece is really important," he says. "My wife said, 'Gee, it kind of looks like jewelry for the building.'"

Stoller was an assistant to mathematician and visionary Buckminster Fuller and he was inspired by his geometric forms.

All of his abstract work starts with some geometric basis -- sometimes as a sketch, most often on the computer. He works in bronze, steel, and concrete.

A piece in Stockton reflects the city's diversity.

"I drew the source material there from the ancient cultures of those people," he says.

A work at a Maryland Music Center is about dance and music.

"There's sort of a jazz component in the sense of making it up as you go and then it gets more real and solid," he says.

This is a second career for Stoller. He was a Silicon Valley industrial designer.

"it's like being an architect of everything but buildings," he says.

It wasn't satisfying. Sculpture brought more freedom. Now his works are installed across the country. His fame has spread.

"Art really to me is about joy," he says.

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