TWO BROTHERS CONTINUE THEIR FATHER’S LEGACY OF CARPENTRY AND DESIGN

BY ERIK SCHONING PHOTOS BY ALEX BARRETO

For David and Dante Rosania, design runs in their blood. The owners of Design Firm in Pine Brook took over their father’s carpentry business in 2000, and they have spent the last 24 years building on their father’s legacy and putting their own stamp on interior design in New Jersey.

The Rosania brothers were born 18 months apart. Growing up and into adulthood, they’ve done practically everything together. Both attended the Fashion Institute of Technology David for interior design, Dante for graphic design and they both knew, sooner or later, they wanted to take over their father Robert Rosania’s carpentry business.

“We were in the truck one day, and my father looked at us and said, ‘If you’re going to do this, you need to commit to it. Because if not, you’re fired,’” laughed David Rosania. “So my brother and I talked and decided we were ready to get involved. Our dad has supported us ever since.”

Robert Rosania made his name as a top-notch finish carpenter, and today his sons carry on that tradition through their renowned custom millwork. In the early days of the business, the brothers ran a remodeling firm, tackling smaller projects with an eye for detail and custom finishing. They amassed a solid reputation for high-quality finish work: hanging doors and putting up trim, all the small but vital details that take a project from good to great. Today, in a field that has increasingly tilted toward specialization over the last 20 years, the Rosanias have found their calling card with their custom millwork.

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The Rosanias come from a design background, yes, but they also gained experience and expertise in carpentry under their father. The brothers are uniquely equipped to see a project through from start to finish. Whether it’s drawing up initial plans with a client, fabricating custom millwork out of their Pine Brook facility, or troubleshooting construction issues at a site, there’s no part of the process they aren’t familiar with. No matter the job’s requirements, they have the chops to get it done.

“Whatever someone’s needs are, we try to meet them there,” Rosania said. “A home is different than a business, but the process is exactly the same. It doesn’t matter if we’re trimming out a 1,200-square-foot house or a 12,000-square-foot house. No two jobs look the same, because everyone has their own identity, but our process, our attention to detail, is always the same.”

This comprehensive approach is evident in a single visit to their Pine Brook headquarters. Design Firm is home to a full-service hardware store, a custom millwork shop, and, of course, the company’s offices. From materials and custom products to design, the brothers tackle the entire process. It’s partly why they believe their business has grown so steadily over the last 24 years: they are able to see projects through from beginning to end, from new construction homes to buzzy new restaurants (their work is a 50/50 split between commercial and residential projects).

David Rosania sees his role as ultimately collaborative, working closely with a client to bring their vision to life. “My job is to guide the client,” he said. “I always tell my clients to look in a magazine and rip out every picture of a kitchen they like. Nine times out of ten, they will send me the same exact style and color, every time. So now I have a basis and I know what they like. They know where they want to go, but they don’t know how to get there. It’s my job to help the client put their stamp on their project.”

But the journey from magazine photo or early design sketch to finished project is long and often complex. As anyone who’s ever undertaken a renovation, remodel, or custom build knows, unforeseen obstacles can and often will arise. On any given day, Rosania has a team of 30 on a project’s roster, from suppliers to contractors. Once construction starts, problems can crop up, but it’s the ability to adjust on the fly that defines a company.

“In this business, everything’s a problem,” Rosania said. “So it’s how you solve the problems that separate most builders, contractors, and finish guys from the rest. It’s easy for me to build a square cabinet in my shop, but it takes some time to install a square cabinet in a crooked space. Construction is the biggest puzzle to put together. You have to have talent, but you have to be able to fit all the pieces together to get to the finish line in time.”

The brothers are always pushing to redefine what their business can be. The company rebranded in 2017, and they’re working to expand their online footprint and continue to grow their client base. They’ve had no shortage of success, and David Rosania attributes it to the strong family values their father established over 55 years in carpentry. Ultimately, the strong bond between the brothers has allowed the Rosanias to do their best work, year over year. The long journey of two brothers born 18 months apart, a journey that took them both to the same university and then back into the family business, is a kind of shared experience that can’t be manufactured. It’s the most natural partnership in the world.

“It’s family; you have your ups and downs, but the goal is always the same,” David Rosania said. “My strengths aren’t his, and his strengths aren’t mine, so we make a perfect partnership. It’s been a great ride. We’re very family-oriented people. For us, this business is all about an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. It sounds simple, but when it comes together, it’s something really special.”

Design Firm

78 Bloomfield Avenue, Pine Brook

973.396.8023 / designfirmllc.com