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John Robshaw's Rules For Traveling In Asia

Posted: 05/04/2012 7:00 am

Designer John Robshaw has traveled the globe for his eponymous textile company, working alongside artisans and studying their traditional printing methods. He makes at least one buying trip to Asia each year. Here, he shares some tips for exploring the region.


Carry on or check in?

Check in, always: Carrying bags makes me feel like a mule. I also ship a load of stuff back when I go on buying trips.

Which one item do you always pack?

My Canon S100, which takes video as well as stills — I like to video people in workshops printing and stitching textiles.


What advice do you have for traveling in Asia?

Don’t eat the street food in India, slather yourself in mosquito repellant, particularly in the hot season when dengue fever is a risk, and when you start crossing a road in India don’t stop or you’ll cause an accident.

Any tips on buying furniture and textiles there?

Don’t be the nice American: Offer 30 percent of the price and don’t be in a hurry to strike a deal — if you can, come back a few days later and you'll get a better price.

Tell us about your recent trip to India — what were the highlights?

Wandering through Jodhpur’s old furniture warehouses was like a history lesson. I loved the quirky portraits and the hybrid furniture, a hodge-podge of periods and styles: A Nepali empire chair combined with a Rajasthani oak cart, for example. And trekking in Shimla — the views of the Himalayas — mountain peak after mountain peak — were fantastic.


What was the best thing you ate on your last trip?

An incredible South Indian prawn curry at the restaurant at Oberoi Gurgaon, just outside New Delhi — they fly in the morning catch for lunch every day.

Are there foods and drinks you gravitate to in different countries?

Thailand has amazing street food. I always have mango sticky rice when mangos are in season, and I get plain lassis from Lassi Wallah on MI Road in Jaipur, India.

What’s your traveling wardrobe?

Light cotton trousers, John Varvatos for Converse sneakers, fitted shirts I make from leftover textiles, and I carry a man purse — it’s a beat-up old leather shoulder bag by Endelman — with a Moleskine notebook, colored pens and pencils, and dried mango inside.

And finally, what will you be looking for when you judge the Pinterest boards?

Apart from girls in bikinis? A voice and a point of view — and I find it really easy to get drawn into color.

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