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
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
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.