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Where I Work: Adam Rogers of Thos. Moser

We’ve steadily fallen in love over the years with handmade American furniture brand Thos. Moser, a company rooted in tradition and craftsmanship. Founded in 1972, the company now employs around 70 men and women who take pride in producing high-end wooden furniture at their Auburn, Maine headquarters. One of those people, the Director of Design and Product Development, Adam Rogers, gives us an inside look at where the pieces are designed and developed in this month’s Where I Work.

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What is your typical work style?

My office is within a 100,000 square foot facility where we make the furniture. I tend to keep regular hours there, but often do my best work at my home studio/shop where I can freely prototype and mock up details without worrying about how long I have until the next meeting.

What’s your studio environment like?

I keep my office/studio as neat and orderly as possible, but it is within a woodshop so there are limits. Inside my office I always have music playing, whether it’s a Motown or Rock + Roll day depends on the task at hand.

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How is your office organized/arranged?

The design + product development area is adjacent to our standard manufacturing floor. My office is in the corner of that area, right in the heart of the action. I can see my workbench and my team’s benches from my office windows. It’s a luxury to work so directly with the prototypes and so closely with the talented craftsmen that are my partners both in the space and in the work.

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How long have you been in this space? Where did you work before that?

I’ve been in this area for a couple of years now. When I became the director of design we relocated the group to be closer to the standard manufacturing floor to encourage more interaction with the craftsmen so we’d benefit from more varied perspectives during our design and development process. Prior to being in this space, I had an office on the second floor, more removed from the action.

If you could change something about your workspace, what would it be?

Having more hours in a day to spend here.

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Is there an office pet?

I occasionally bring Daisy to the shop. She is my Basset Hound who seems to make everything better when she’s around.

How do you record ideas?

I have a Moleskine that I rely on heavily. I don’t typically sketch ideas so much as write about them as triggers. I’ve found that by the time I get around to acting on the ideas, they’ve evolved and look different anyway. I also have countless books and magazines with Post-it notes throughout as points of reference or simply interest.

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Do you have an inspiration board? What’s on it right now?

I don’t have an inspiration board per se but rather a collection of images, joint samples, and random artifacts pinned up or piled around my studio that may lead to ideas or even furniture someday.

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What kind of design objects might you have scattered about the space?

Because we do a lot of exploring through prototyping, we fail frequently. That is, the detail doesn’t always align with the overall idea and therefore leads to a dead end. But often times I see opportunities to evolve that solution for another problem so I’ll keep mock ups or joint samples around as learnings, as references looking for a possible future application.

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Are there tools and/or machinery in your space?

As a small studio within a large shop, we have everything we need to make an object from wood. In the design + product development area we have a complete wood shop that we use for prototyping, but under the same roof we have access to larger scale, high tech tools such as 5 axis CNC machinery.

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What tool do you most enjoy using in the design process?

Even with all of the hand tools, machinery, computers, etc., I rely on simple verbal communication most of all. An idea is realized with tools, but foremost is the understanding of that idea. Once the why is clear, the what and how is easy.

Let’s talk about how you’re wired. Tell me about your tech arsenal/devices.

MacBook Pro outside the office and on the road and a PC in the studio.

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What design software do you use, and for what?

I do most of my design work on a good old fashioned drafting table before prototyping. But once the ideas are more developed they’re put into SolidEdge for CAD and Mastercam for CAM.

Do you have a favorite piece or collection that you’ve designed?

Not necessarily. Typically I’m most proud of what I’m currently working on which is a living room collection at the moment.

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When did you feel like you “made it”? With what piece or design? At what moment/circumstances?

I don’t feel like I’ve made it. I’m not even sure I want to know that feeling. What I do know is that I’m happy to be in a position to create work I truly believe in and work with people who share my passion.

Tell us about a current project you’re working on. What was the inspiration behind it?

Hartford is a collection that will launch in fall of 2015. It consists of a sofa, case piece, coffee table, end table, and lounge chair. The intention is to continue to evolve the aesthetic of the Thos. Moser brand while remaining true to the brand values that have made the company successful for 43 years. The commitment is to evolve, not change.

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What’s on your desk right now?

On my desk as we speak are too many magazines, a stack of spreadsheets, and a number of half empty cups of coffee.

Do you use any of your pieces in your own home/life?

I live with a number of pieces I’ve made over the years. There is however a danger in being a furniture designer / maker. I have to consciously avoid populating my home with too many objects. One can only have so many dining chairs.

Caroline Williamson is Editorial Director of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.