Designer/Maker Adam Rogers Talks About His Inspirations and Career

Adam Rogers taught the Design & Development Masterclass with Evan Dunstone, September 9th to 20th, 2019.

After completing a degree in architecture, I worked for a large corporate architecture firm. The experience was pivotal to my self-understanding; I wanted to be more intimately involved in the process of translating ideas into existence.

I revered the approach-to-work of craftsmen such as George Nakashima, James Krenov, and Wendell Castle.  I also respected the designs of the masters such as Hans Wegner, Le Corbusier and the Eames’. I yearned for a better understanding of the process of making while still wanting to create designs that could be produced and reproduced at scale.

After visiting a few schools in the US, I decided to attend graduate school at the School for American Crafts at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).  The program enjoys a rich tradition of woodworking and craft education and was led by my eventual mentors Andy Buck and Rich Tannen, both of whom understood my goals and played an instrumental role in developing both my craft skills and my evolving perspective as a designer.

My MFA thesis work centered around the exploration of the role of craftsmanship in design, where the handmade adds true value in combination with elements produced at scale. The results were more of a hypothesis than a conclusion, but the endeavor has informed my work in the field to date.

My first job after graduate school took me to Maine where I worked at Thos. Moser. I spent my first couple of years working as a custom designer and managing the engineering department while overseeing the product development process. These roles helped me understand the impact of each design decision in terms of efficiencies, cost impact and ultimately value added. When I took over as the Director of Design this experience was invaluable in making products consistent with our then-goal to evolve the brand aesthetics while staying true to the craft roots of the company.  We constantly strove to expand the craft capabilities of the manufacturing plant.

After the retirement of Rich Tannen, I was honored to be invited to teach full time at RIT alongside Andy Buck. I taught for two years while establishing my eponymous design studio. The combination of solid industry experience, followed up by a period of teaching and experimentation, helped me to consolidate my ideas on design, making and the experience of furniture in people’s lives

I now dedicate all of my time to Adam Rogers:Studio in Portland, Maine where my focus is on developing design concepts and prototypes for outside manufacture in partnership with established brands. In addition, I do consultant work relating to product development and manufacturing. My clients range from small woodworking focused shops to large international corporations. I still take on occasional one-off custom commissions and dedicate a small amount of time to developing a line of my own that I’ll consider producing someday.

My passion is for both design and craft, an approach that transcends scale, and the belief that design is the process of deciding what to turn a tree into, and craft is the process of doing so – whether just once, or several times.  – Adam Rogers, July 2019.