A design explorer proves the power of far-flung patterns.
By Marisa Spyker
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John Robshaw spends as much as three months a year in the field with Uzbeki weavers, Jaipur artisans hand-dying batiks, and Philippine islanders spinning fabric from banana fibers. From Bolivia to Bangkok, Aleppo to Ahmadabad, he seeks out batiks, ikats, and wood-block prints that he can adapt to his own textile and bedding line.
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While trekking across India, Robshaw discovered the beauty of dhurries—intricately designed rugs often found in palaces, some measuring up to 20 X 20 feet. Traditionally hand-printed and hand-woven from a durable mixture of cotton and jute, the dhurries are scaled down and reinvented for everyday use in his collection. “All of my designs come from traditional ideas of dhurries, but they’re freshened up with new color combinations,” Robshaw says.
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Robshaw’s pillows are a showcase for techniques used around the world, from ikat dyeing in Thailand to hand woven abaca in the Philippines. “I am always on the hunt for new ways to print, new embroidery techniques, and new fabrics,” he says. The selection here includes hand-woven silk pillows along with heavy-duty, block-printed cotton ones. “We actually used a traditional rug fabric, which softens the print, giving it a worn, vintage feel.”
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The globe-trotting pattern pro journeyed to Lake Dal in Kashmir to shoot his latest collection, which includes delicate cotton voile window sheers, shown here hanging from the boat canopy. “I think they’re amazing in a beach house, because they subtly filter the light,” he says. “And the light plays with the pattern, too, making parts of it seem lighter and other parts darker, which is intriguing to the eye.”
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Robshaw knows a surefire way to add oomph to a bed is with a statement-making headboard. His Bihar design, which can be custom ordered in 11 original block-printed fabrics, is inspired by the distinctive curves and lines of Indian architecture. “It’s a refreshing, cheeky style—perfect for a set of twin beds in a beach house guest room,” says Robshaw.
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Robshaw designed these cotton throws to be multi-purpose: they’re a great accessory to cozy up on a daybed with, drape over the arm of a sofa, or bring down to the beach on chilly afternoons. Hand loomed and hand-knotted in India, the simply designed blankets boast a soft, textured feel. “They’re perfectly lightweight,” says Robshaw. “I keep them on every bed and sofa in my house.”
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Sleep in Style
Exotic and rich prints on sheets, quilts, and pillows are a hallmark of Robshaw’s line, which he combines to create a perfectly curated sleep spot. “I like to mix a variety of patterns from large block prints to embroidered minimal lines when making a bed,” he says. “In this case, simple color blocking of blue and white in different tones and shades all help the patterns compliment and expound on each other.” Pictured here: Soma Peacock Fitted Sheet; Cinde Light Indio Flat Sheet; Petra Cobalt Duvet and Sham