An Interview with Famed Sculptor Roger Phillips

A constructivist, Roger Phillips’ signature work is kinetic and made of stainless steel and brightly painted aluminum plate. Phillips’ designed the eclectic piece of art by the Mansions at Acqualina pool and we recently caught up with him for a Q & A on his inspiration, challenges, and style.

What was your inspiration behind the design? All of my pieces move in a controlled environment, I wanted to create a piece that moved freely in the wind. In this case it’s in the shape of a ring, because I didn’t want anything that was too loud and obtrusive – I also created this piece with a hole in the center so that no matter what position you’re standing in or what angle you’re viewing the art, you can always see the ocean.

What is the name of the sculpture and how was the name chosen? It’s called Open Disc and Circle. The names of all of my pieces are always descriptive without any suggestion of the meaning. To me, I’m always hoping people find their own meaning in my work, everything is up for interpretation.

What makes this sculpture different from others you have designed? This is the first sculpture I’ve made that has a hole in the center. The reason being is that I wanted it to be as unobtrusive as possible. If you think of it, if there were no hole in the disc as it went around you would only see a knife edge in one position and then you’d only get a broadside from the other. Here, even when it’s broadside you can see through it and to the beach.

What was the most challenging element of the design? Well every piece has its own particular design problems to solve and I don’t think I can dutifully describe it except to say that all my pieces are about free movement – one element in a very controlled environment, in this case the environment being the stainless steel ring itself that is the disc revolves in. The disc is extremely free to move in 360 degrees, but only within those set limits, which is pretty characteristic of all of my pieces, but again it’s always a different problem to solve with a different piece. In terms of the weather in the environment, I also never know when I put a piece up how the wind will effect it, it has to do with how the wind bounces off the surrounding buildings and trees so it’s always a surprise.

What factors influenced you to design this exact piece for the Mansions? It was actually chosen by Jules and Stephanie Trump. Stephanie asked me if I had any pieces that I felt would look good at this location and sent me to the Mansions website. When I saw the property images I immediately sent back the image of this piece and both Jules and Stephanie loved it.

What do you consider your signature Roger Phillips style? One free moving element in a very controlled environment.

You’re staying at Acqualina while installing the sculptures. What has been your favorite part during your Acqualina on-site experience? Acqualina is extraordinarily beautiful, comfortable, and luxurious. When I went to a meeting with Jules Trump and his designers about the latest Acqualina project, The Estates at Acqualina, I could see why the Acqualina ambiance is the way it is, because Jules is very hands on and has very specific ideas about what he wants to do – his stamp is on everything and Stephanie’s too. The crew at Acqualina is also phenomenal from the construction crew at the Mansions to the Front Desk at Acqualina to the servers in AQ, anyone that I met couldn’t have been friendlier and more helpful in a genuine way  is very helpful and extremely genuine in their approach.

Have you done any other residential projects in Miami? No I worked exclusively for the Mansions at Acqualina.