The Style Files: John Robshaw

John Robshaw is a prolific textile designer who has brought the ancient techniques of Asian textile printing to a new audience by updating them through his modern lens. The dashing designer studied art at Pratt and went on to work as an assistant to painter Julian Schnabel. In 1990, he traveled to India for the first time– a pivotal moment in his life and career. John fell in love with the fabric-making traditions of local artisans as well as the rewarding immediacy of the craft. Over time and after more extensive travels, John had become an expert in the textile-making techniques of several cultures and countries. Inspired, he sought a way to combine the styles and traditions in a modern way and his eponymous textile brand was born. John sells his bedding, textiles, and wallpapers, and fabrics by the yard via his website as well as through exclusive retailers including Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s. In addition, John has a collection of fabrics by the yard and custom-made furniture with fabric manufacturer, Duralee. He possesses an uncanny understanding and mastery of color and pattern, which is evident both in the textiles he designs, as well as in his homes, including his Connecticut country house which is currently featured in ELLE DECOR. I hope you will enjoy getting to know more about John as much as I have!

Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?

John Robshaw: Waspy hippy.. lost on a world tour wearing a block printed shirt.

PC: How has living in New York influenced your style?

JR: The edges of NY and the walking the streets of NY keep me casual yet dapper when need be- lots of sneakers and good jackets as sort of my casual go to from studio, to art opening, to dinner.

{John’s Home as featured in ELLE DECOR | Photography by Richard Powers}

PC: What does your home say about you?

JR: My home says I travel a lot, that I collect all colors, shapes and sizes from old Samarkand carpets to art school paintings to demons from Sri Lanka.

{John’s Home as featured in ELLE DECOR | Photography by Richard Powers}

PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?

JR: India and just travel, there are so many ideas floating about and to see them in different light. The colors people wear all over the world, the casual style of villagers in India smiling zipping by on motorbikes.

{Indian Adventures}

PC: Who are your personal style icons?

JR: Bryan Ferry

{John’s Home as featured in ELLE DECOR | Photography by Richard Powers}

PC: What trait do you most admire in a person?

JR: Creativity

{The Inspiration Board in John’s Connecticut Studio}

PC: What is your guilty pleasure?

JR: Peanut butter and deep dark chocolate otherwise I am pretty dull.

{John’s Home as featured in ELLE DECOR | Photography by Richard Powers}

PC: Who or what has been your greatest professional influence?

JR: Charles Jacobsen who I met early on in his cavernous showroom in LA put together pieces from around the world in a magical unexpected way. The actual Jim Thompson with his cool teak house in Bangkok where he had dinner parties and he might have been a spy and he disappeared into the Malaysian highlands with no trace.

{A Recent Bedding Collection}

PC: What is your idea of living “la dolce vita”?

JR: The good life is long distance with an intrepid partner to places to think, read and draw for weeks at a time.

{Vibrant Colors in India}

PC: What can we look forward to next from you?

JR: Next I am focusing on limited edition textiles made by artisans and telling their stories on the website.

{A Block-Printer at Work}

Go To Outfit: jeans and block printed blazer

Style Mantra: PRINT!

Scent: Eau D’Italie Le Sirenuse Positano

Piece of Jewelry: an old Rolex and John Hardy bracelet given to me by Mrs. Hardy

Color I Never Tire of: indigo

Flower: marigolds

Indispensable Design Element: antique textiles in any form

Era for Design: Baroque

Dream Project: designing a crazy Indian hotel in India

Fabric/ Textile: old Tapis, wedding sarongs from Indonesia

Hostess Gift: turban, she probably does not have one.

Meal: Japanese curry

Drink: coffee, coffee and more coffee.

Way to Unwind: yoga every morning and squash

3 Things I Love about my City: art museums/ book shops/ ethnic food

Weekend Destination: country home in Sharon, Ct

Hotel: Imperial in New Delhi

City: Roma

Museum: Rubin

Artist: Carol Dunham

Song: “Got to Give It Up” by Marvin Gaye

Actor: Jeff Bridges

Prized Possession: clay temples replicas from Madurai

Risk Worth Taking: starting your own company

Greatest Extravagance: business class tickets to far away places

Go To Color Palette: blue and coral

Rule to Break: print on top of print on top of print

Movie Set Design: Wes Anderson

I can never have to many… antique textiles

{Photography Courtesy of John Robshaw}


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  1. Thank you for this great introduction! I was aware of and loved John’s textiles but knew little about him. He is fabulous and his color sense impeccable. I love his hostess gift idea!