A gift for giving

SHOPPING WITH... JOHN ROCHA
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Indy Lifestyle Online
DUBLIN-based designer John Rocha is regarded by those who know him to be an expert, spot-on present giver. Friends tell of thoughtful, well chosen gifts - church candles and single orchids given long before they became trendy presents. What will he be giving this Christmas? "I'm lucky because I've designed a range of tableware for Waterford Crystal [enquiries: 0171 838 0017] which everybody likes, so I'll send that!" he laughs.

At home in Dublin, Rocha feels that John Farrington Antiques (32 Drury Street, Dublin 2, tel: 00 353 1 679 1899) is a sure thing for jewellery gifts for his wife, Odette. "It's her favourite shop so I know I can't go wrong." Rocha is tipped off by the owners: "They say, 'Odette was here earlier and she liked this'."

The designer, a keen fly fisherman, knows the owners of his local tackle shop, too. "I always use Patrick Cleere & Sons [5 Bedford Row, Dublin 2, tel: 00 353 1 677 7406]. I often stop and chat because it's in the Temple Bar area which is literally a five or 10 minute walk from my office. If I'm not busy I just go down and chat about where the fishing is good, or I ask their advice about what sort of flies I should use. I'm going to fish in Alaska in March so I'm investigating what sort of fly is best to take."

John Rocha likes to buy a lot of books: "There are three places I always go to." In Dublin he shops at the second-hand specialists Greene's Booksellers (16 Clare Street, Dublin 2, tel: 00 353 1 676 2554). In London, Rocha likes the designers' favourite bookshop, Zwemmer (80 Charing Cross Road, London WC2, tel: 0171 240 4157), which specialises in fashion and art books. If he's looking for a particular out-of-print book, Rocha calls a specialist book dealer, "a very nice lady called Rose Kendal" (0171 228 0346) to source it for him. "I found her when for my 40th birthday a friend of mine sought out a book written in the year I was born - I love that idea. Rose can get special books from all over the world." Rocha shops for photographic prints in the same way. "Michael Hoppen has a really fantastic gallery [Michael Hoppen Photography, 3 Jubilee Place, London SW3, tel: 0171 352 3649]. Old prints are a fantastic present, if you want something specific. He can source exactly the one you want."

Rocha spends four months of every year travelling, so is willing to do his shopping in far-flung places - Bali, Vietnam, Miami and Seattle - and then wait to have it shipped back home. Most of the "antique stuff" in the Rocha home comes from shops in Bali or Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam (for "beautiful lacquered wood boxes"), and he buys gifts for his children from Miami. "I've just bought my nine-year-old son some amazing roller blades from out there."

Tired of shops in big cities regarded as "must-sees", the designer prefers to do his shopping in areas of town which he likes the feel of. "I like places that are more organic and not so obvious. For example, I never expected to go shopping in Seattle, but I couldn't believe it the first time I went to the fish market there and saw all the craft shops." From shops by the Pike Place Fish Market (enquiries: 001 206 682 9329) in Seattle, Rocha buys "beautiful hand crafted jewellery" for his wife.

So where does the designer shop for everyday essentials like food? "I like the food hall at Harrods [0171 730 1234] but most of our food shopping - fresh fruit and vegetables - I buy on Saturdays from the Meeting House Square in Temple Bar in Dublin. Lots of people come from the country to sell the vegetables and cheeses that they've made. We love that." Imogen Fox

John Rocha is at 60F Sloane Avenue, London SW3. Enquiries: 0171 838 0017

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