To tuck into John Robshaw’s bedding, pillows and textiles is to feel aloft, engulfed—even transported. Who better to ask about the art of travel? Robshaw began his career studying traditional block printing in China and India. He ended up traveling the world and building a formidable brand synonymous with wanderlust, luxury and the uplift of artisan communities, from Vietnam to Bolivia. Along with a new textile collection, Robshaw recently collaborated with Cisco Brothers on a sumptuous line of sustainable furniture that effortlessly mixes and matches structure with his plentiful patterns. By Martine Bury
How do you define style? Eclectic, layered, undecided
Tell us one word that describes you. Printed
What inspires you? Travelling to places I have not been to. Art in any form.
Where is home? Lower East Side, Manhattan
Home away from home? Sharon, Connecticut farm
How have your interests and insights about travel changed since you first discovered you could make this your livelihood? They keep evolving and shifting. I relearn what I have forgotten.
You’ve been able to study many textile traditions, passed down for generations. What is the one artisanal tradition that stands out for you? Block printing is my favorite since I started with it, and I am still messing around with it.
What is your favorite city in the world and why? I lived in Bangkok ages ago in an old Thai tea house and bumped around on water taxi and ate in small, dark restaurants. The hottest chilis will for sure kill all parasites…
Your favorite restaurant and signature dish? Nyonya [in New York]. Their Masak Lemak Lunch Special—a choice of protein sautéed with green and red peppers, onions, carrots, mushroom, dried red chilis and ginger in a spicy aromatic chili gravy.
Your favorite hotel or resort? The Imperial Hotel in New Delhi
When abroad, do you have a favorite comfort food? Banana bread
What are your favorite shops in the world? Fabindia in India, Tophat in NYC, Billy Reid in NYC, Weekend market in Bangkok, Rose Bowl in Pasadena
You are quite an engaging blogger. It’s like reading your journal even though it mixes art and commerce. Why do you think it’s important to share your travel experiences this way? First of all, it gets me to do more and see more if I think someone might read them or be interested in them. Second, I love shooting and researching so they are a good excuse to get me out on the street and to new towns and places to look at textiles. And, along the way, [it’s about] staying in some great hotels and meeting some exciting characters.
What is your favorite app? Google Maps
What is your top fashion tip while traveling? Jeans work all the time, and one small bag to somehow sort everything and keep room for buying stuff when you need it…
Plane, train, automobile or bicycle? Overnight planes and trains in India with A/C for sleeping, please… For automobile, Ambassadors in India are still amazingly slow and roll along with a whole room inside to lay down and sleep when you hit traffic…In small towns in India, I prefer bicycle rickshaws because those chaps need the money…
What is the most amazing thing about India? I am still seeing new ideas all of the time—the textile traditions and the people who are still willing to make them. The Sari industry is endless with its innovations and styles.
How do you bring a global feel to entertaining and your home? Block-printed napkins and turbans that guests must wear during dinner. It helps the party.
What is your favorite collectible or treasure from your travels? Indonesian wedding sarongs that I bought in Sumatra on one of my first trips over, all gold threads and coins—very intriguing.
Tell us about the last picture you took. Harbour Island of India Hicks. Hicks is paddle boarding with her daughter Domino and her brave dog Banger onboard.
Best book you have read recently. Rome by Robert Hughes, it’s incredible—the layers of history.
What is the most rewarding thing about getting to work with artisans and communities abroad? Their attitude and the way art and design are woven into their lives and their smiles.
How do you unwind? Escape to Sharon, Connecticut where I hang in the painting studio for days.
Meditation or conversation? Yoga, please…