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Lofty ideals

Joshua Rogers combines aesthetics, philosophy and art in his Printers Row loft.

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Rogers constructed the coffee table using an antique Tibetan window as the top and furniture legs he bought at a hardware store.
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Reading philosopher Alain de Botton inspired Rogers to keep a sculpture of a skull on his bookshelf as a reminder that life is short. �Almost all the great artists of the 17th, 18th and 19th century kept a skull in their studio as a reminder that death is the great equalizer,� Rogers says.
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While Rogers�s loft has an updated kitchen with maple cabinets, a glass backsplash and stainless-steel appliances, the stools around the kitchen island are vintage.
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The reclaimed metal letter R was originally used as part of a light-up sign and was one of Rogers�s first Agent Gallery scores.
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Joshua Rogers can hear the loud rumble of the nearby El through the original windows of his 2,000-square-foot Printers Row loft, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. “Some people might not like that urban noise, but it matches the feel of the place,” Rogers, the founder and president of Arete Wealth Management, says.

 

Joshua Rogers can hear the loud rumble of the nearby El through the original windows of his 2,000-square-foot Printers Row loft, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. “Some people might not like that urban noise, but it matches the feel of the place,” Rogers, the founder and president of Arete Wealth Management, says.

Indeed, the two-level, two-bedroom, two-bathroom unit’s 25-foot ceilings, exposed brick walls and wood structural beams make it the epitome of an urban loft, a term Rogers says has become “ridiculously overused” by Realtors and developers.

“I’ve always been a fan of the raw artist loft style,” Rogers says. “If I could have concrete floors, I’d go for that.”

When Rogers rented the space in May, he turned to his friend Mariano Chavez, a dealer in vintage and salvaged wares, for help in creating a home for himself and his two children, who live with their mother but visit frequently.

“Mariano’s aesthetic reminds me that there were times when craftsmanship mattered,” Rogers says.

The two met when Rogers’s girlfriend, Leslie Weisenbacher, stumbled across Chavez’s Damen Avenue shop, Agent Gallery, and correctly surmised that Rogers would appreciate its inventory of salvaged and vintage pieces. Rogers visited the store the very next weekend and made the first of many purchases, including a graphic red and white fireman’s lifesaving device, two vintage theater seats and many industrial lighting fixtures. Chavez was intrigued by the idea of using Rogers’s loft as his tabula rasa, so the two began a ten-week collaboration to fill the large empty space, often working late into the night to custom build pieces. “One night we were sawing until 2 in the morning,” Rogers says. “Between a handsaw and a sander, you can do a lot.”

For example, they made the kitchen island light pendant using two antique mercury shades, which they attached to ordinary plumbing pipe from the hardware store. And with a little work, thick timber beams salvaged from a demolished building became matching shelving units that now hold his collection of books and objects such as busts of Socrates and Buddha.

“There’s something about being surrounded by all my books that brings me a lot of peace,” Rogers says. “It reminds me of what I really love—the pursuit of truth and self-awareness.”

According to Rogers, everything in the loft has meaning beyond its aesthetic value. For example, he appreciates the antique typewriter in the living room for more than just its patina, a timeworn appearance highly valued by vintage enthusiasts. For Rogers, it’s also a reminder to slow down and live a more meaningful life.

Rogers also added several of Chavez’s paintings to his collection, most prominently a six-by-eight-foot canvas (pictured, top right) hanging near the stairway, which depicts a confrontation between two groups of Neanderthals, several of whom are holding glowing blue orbs. According to Rogers, the piece never fails to spark lively debates about its meaning, but he believes the orbs represent primitive truths that have been lost as humans evolved.

“In general, I believe that as modernity presses on, that we’re losing some of the essential things,” Rogers says. “I like older things that remind of us of the past.”

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