Chris Rose has had more careers at age 45 than most people will have in a lifetime. There have been plenty of professional ups – and one very high-profile down after Rose brought the historic Rookwood Pottery brand back to Cincinnati in 2006 – but the designer’s outlook on life has remained constant.
“It’s like he wakes up every day and says ‘I’ve got five great kids, a beautiful wife, life could be a lot worse than it could be better,” John Burns of Cincinnati Bell Technology Solutions told the Enquirer for a story in 2013.
There’s been one big change since then. Rose and his wife, Shannon, now have six children after a baby boy joined the couple’s five daughters. It’s added another level of joyful chaos to Rose’s life. Otherwise, he continues to be one of the region’s more fascinating business stories.
The St. Xavier High School graduate’s network is made up of executives, artists and celebrities. Rose, who has a degree in graphic and industrial design, has managed tours for the band 98 Degrees, worked for a Colorado startup that made climbing equipment, and spent time at a New York City design firm owned by the husband of singer Judy Collins.
Rose is now running Arya Design Partners, the startup he launched in 2011 after being forced out as Rookwood Pottery’s CEO in 2010 following a high-profile power struggle with two investors. Arya, which makes interior and exterior fixtures for commercial and residential architects, is expanding into new business lines and honing its model.
This week, Rose started filming scenes for “Lachey’s Bar,” the new AE Network series set to premiere next year. Rose is lifelong friends with Nick and Drew Lachey, who are opening a sports bar in Over-the-Rhine. AE will document their exploits, and Rose is expected to be a recurring character.
“It’s been a really interesting year,” Rose said. “I don’t sleep too much.”
“Lachey’s Bar” should provide national exposure for Arya, which is located on Riverside Drive. On the design side, Arya makes fixtures including fireplaces, vanity tops and coffee tables for commercial and residential customers. It uses materials including concrete, wood, aluminum and stainless steel.
• Contact information for Arya Design: [email protected]
Arya has done work in the Cincinnati Bell Technology Pavilion at Great American Ball Park, and is working with the Cincinnati Reds on a project for next year’s All-Star Game. Arya’s customers also include Mount Adams-based Metropolitan Design and Development, which has built homes in neighborhoods including Mount Adams, Hyde Park and Indian Hill.
Principal Matt Fenik said the firm’s business model requires that it work with designers like Arya that have specific and often rare skill sets.
“Our projects are unique. We like to combine materials together that you don’t typically see,” Fenik said. “What I’m looking for are large pieces that are very specific in size and shape, and that’s when you need somebody with a specific expertise.”
Arya’s new business segment is called Arya Hospitality, which sources furniture, fixtures and equipment for hotels around the country. Arya developed the business through Rose’s relationship with the managing partners at Hyde Park Commercial Group, a boutique commercial real estate and corporate advisory firm headquartered Downtown, with partnerships in Atlanta and Chicago.
Hyde Park Commercial Group sources the hotel deals for Arya Hospitality.
“Arya and Chris bring a level of vision that is seldom seen in today’s environment. Combine that with product development and manufacturing, and you have a stellar product line,” said managing partner Jerry Dehner.
“This is not his first rodeo and he definitely knows how to put together a concept and take it to market.”
Rose has drawn on his past business experience in building Arya. He’s been careful not to grow too quickly, and is moving the company away from designing custom kitchens, and toward making higher-margin custom furniture using mixed medians.
There will be bumps in the road – Rose has described his professional path as always forward, seldom straight – but he’s excited about Arya’s prospects and customers.
“Our business is like most. It’s a process, it requires attention, risk, calculation and changing course when necessary,” Rose said.
“Working with hometown giants isn’t new to me but it means a great deal. I love Cincinnati and these companies embody our hometown here and globally. The bumps aren’t all out, but they are getting smoother every day. We will take it as it comes.”