Rex Todd Rogers:

  • By chelseajaie
  • 25 Apr, 2014

Coastal style with a modern sensibility

You may not have ever heard of Rex Todd Rogers, and I can guarantee he has never ‘heard’ you, but once you read about his uncanny ability to communicate with his clients and turn their living spaces into functional, serene, works of art, you will not want to miss the opportunity to get to know him.

Designer Rex T. Rogers is a pioneer in the design world, because of his heightened sense of vision.  Rogers was born deaf and an only child. He is the first deaf interior designer in the entire world , a feat which has not gone unnoticed. Earlier this year, Rex was contacted by Deaf Professional Arts Network who just finished filming a documentary about him which will air later this year.

As this May marks the 2nd anniversary of his retail design studio, Rex has actually been designing since the young age of 14 when he was paid $100 for his first job helping a frustrated neighbor design and organize her living room.

After he graduated, salutatorian, from Michigan School for the Deaf, Rogers attended University of Michigan to pursue becoming an attorney and an advocate for Deaf Rights. This career path took him to Washington DC for several years where he was able to change paths and hone in on his coastal design style. This is when he realized he wanted to pursue a career in design instead.

Rogers has a knack for creating functional spaces with genuine purpose and eye catching design. He is just as interested in fabrics and textures as he is in mass and shape.  This skill allows him to combine a variety of furniture from different eras with sleek white modern picture frames, large pillars and simple plants into a serene and relaxing atmosphere.

His style has definitely not gone unnoticed by the big design houses and recently Rogers was one of two contenders left out of 30 for a high profile design job in New York City.  Although Rogers did not get the job, the company loved his work so much, there may be another opportunity for him to expand his work to New York City in the future.

Rogers has very contemporary instincts tempered by a flair for historical allusion. This is very evident in the building which he renovated on Shiawassee in the Dibbleville district, downtown Fenton. The building was originally the residence of Judge Leroy and over the years has had called many businesses home, such as a tavern and a doctor’s practice. He was able to save the original floor, plus old doors and trim. “I absolutely love history,” said Rogers. “It’s so important. The people before us are to be cherished and treasured.”

While his design studio definitely emulates Rogers' all-American, east coast style, I was surprised to see how eclectic, yet classic, his unique finds are. The lofty studio space mixes pieces he has hand picked during his travels all over Michigan and up the east coast. The light filled living room has a pair of beautifully restored 1930’s metal and white leather chairs, a 1950’s mid century modern armless chair and 1970’s couch. All of these pieces he has found, refurbished and restored to a new life.

As you walk through the studio, you will see beautiful lamps, restored and rewired, an old wooden trunk repurposed to a coffee table, which recently was sold to a Grandmother who bought it because it had the perfect set up for her grandchildren to store their art supplies in.

Also considered somewhat of a local superhero, Rogers uses his design powers to give back to the community in a variety of different ways. Just recently, he has worked with the Whaley Children’s Center in Flint, Michigan to help reinvigorate and redesign their living spaces. He feels very blessed to have had the upbringing and life he has had, he wants to help other children who haven’t had that opportunity have a beautiful place to live. Rogers and four of his friends also participate in Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Genesee County and just raised $1000 to go towards their general funding.

Rogers has established somewhat of an underground following in the circles that know him. However, he is on the verge of breaking out and will no longer be a coveted secret to those who love him for his work. My advice to you would be to go see him now, so you can say you knew him when.

With an outgoing, warm personality and an ability to create welcoming partnership with clients, Rex is able to understand and emulate what his clients needs are without actually hearing them. He is able to read lips well and works with clients through visual presentation and with an interpreter, if needed. “You have a voice, but I have my eyes, my taste, my passion for my work,” he said.

His clients range from someone needing help framing a photograph to his current project being hired as the lead designer on a home being built this year on Pine Lake. As Rex pulled out the blueprints for the home, he went on to explain the level of integration he has had with the whole building process, “I’ve chosen everything from the floors, paint, lighting, siding, roof and am designing the landscaping to help maximize the view of the water from the home and the yard”.

Although his favorite style is ‘coastal’, Rogers prides himself in his ability to design in any style.

The Rex Todd Rogers Design Studio is open for walk in and retail business Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10 AM - 5 PM, but you can call and schedule a consultation at (810) 814-0587. I also had the pleasure of meeting Mark Coleman, who has deep Fenton roots and assists Rogers in his studio and has over 25 years of experience in furniture and design.

Pick up a coffee at The Laundry, stroll across the street and stop by to pick up a couple one-of-a kind design finds and accessories, all hand picked by the Rex Todd Rogers.

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