Designer John Robshaw's fabric designs and home collections have been described as exotic and romantic, but he'll tell you that his world is all about eclectic comfort.
Designer John Robshaw creates amazing textiles, including napkins and tablecloths, shower curtains, sheets, shams, quilts, duvet covers, baby bedding and now even Christmas stockings and Christmas tree skirts. Every yard of fabric is blocked and printed by hand in Jaipur, India. But the handcrafted nature of his work recently got him in trouble with his mom.
"My mother had a gold bedcover we made and the gold was patchy in some places. She called and yelled at me on the phone. I told her to let it sit there for a while and get used to it and see what your friends think." That’s the nature of handcrafted textiles; the printer who was stamping the block prints may have taken a break and gone to lunch, and resumed his stamping slightly off-line. "You can see mistakes, see that something’s not quite even," Robshaw says. "It’s what makes it unique, like a piece of art."
Robshaw, a former painter, spends two to three months a year traveling the world for design inspiration. He treasures the unique, the quirky, the slightly off-kilter. In Asia he prefers to stay in "funny old hotels and beat-up palaces." His New York apartment reflects both his work ("it’s kind of a lab, like my showroom, with furniture pieces we’re working on and old textiles") and his travels (the windows are covered with rush shades from India that diffuse the light). "There’s lots of color, lots of blue and dark wood floors and dark wood furniture, with wall hangings and paintings and carpets and too many textiles, for sure."
Here, five things the textile designer has learned about design that you can apply to your own home:
"Say you go on a trip to Mexico City. Instead of buying lots of mediocre souvenirs, take a color palette away and re-create that in a room at home," Robshaw says. For example, if you visit the National Museum of Anthropology in Chapultepec and fall in love with the turquoise, green and gold of the Aztec headdresses, figure out how to use those colors at home in your living room or bedroom. "It’s better than bringing back tchotkes that don’t really fit in your house."
Kathy McCleary is a frequent contributor to HGTV.com. She lives and writes in Falls Church, Virginia. Read more of her articles here.