John Robshaw strikes me as an old soul with an adventurous heart, and an appropriately reverent appreciation for the commingling of history, and artisanal craft. It’s a mouthful, but I suspect, though I have not met Mr. Robshaw, that his waters run deep. Therefore, they are worthy of the words. One little post from a gal on a modest quest like me, cannot possibly do this man justice. I can however attempt to share with you all, some of elegance of what he creates. From the dusty roads of Rujistan to NYC’s Bowery, Robshaw has pioneered a revival.
From fine artist to artisan, from the studios and classrooms of Pratt, to the dirt floors, and open air markets of India, where the ancient and traditional techniques of hand blocked fabrics, found an eager student in John. He has made a living, in living his passion.
I can only imagine he has a heart born for exploration, an inquisitive nature which led him to ask how, and why this ancient tradition was carried out in this fashion. Crouched in small covered shacks, carving wooden blocks, which will later form the pattern. Robshaw heralds the imperfections of the design, as a sacred sign of authenticity. He imbues a sense of awe, infuses his own stylistic technique for overlapping pattern, and natural variation in color, that is the result of something made with adept skill and pride, rather than the cold, formulaic drone of mass production.
Left: Robshaw: Aleppo Light Indigo. Right: Malik
Robshaw is a fine artist indeed. His Bowery based shop is gritty, and full of curiosities. It doesn’t feel at all far from the farmland that its Dutch name indicates was its origin. Before all all the shops, and bars and restaurants sprung up, before its neighbors in Chinatown called themselves by that name, and long before the Lower East Side was hip and called The LES, and before it was inhabited by writers, and Wall Street Brokers, Hasidic Jews and bejeweled starlets…it was just farmland. Like a seed planted in that rich soil, Robshaw sprung up, flourished, and spread from East to West and back again.
While many of the patterns feel Bohemian, I envision them in The Manse’s – Cape Cod Coastal setting. The watery blue hues, the organic leafy patterns, vines and blossoms, feel right amidst the sand and seagrass. Crisp, not rumpled. Roman, not flowing reams of fabric for windows, upholstered stools and benches, not soft hassocks and floppy pillows. Whatever your preference, Robshaw’s refined designs are both unique and familiar.
Left: Robshaw . Citadel Lotus. Right: Robshaw . Faris Silver.
Sold to the Trade, and not here in Boston, you must email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Pillows and sheets can be bought at ABC Carpet in NYC. I often find pillows at Hudson in Boston’s South End, and Target http://www.target.com/p/john-robshaw-bedding-collection/-/A-50746566 has an amazingly vibrant and playful line of bedding designed him. Something to suit all budgets this Saturday.