Design of a Decade


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Design of a Decade

Place-based Design

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Fogo Island Inn, a community-centred social business blending hospitality and sustainability. Newfoundland-born, Norway-based architect Todd Saunders designed a building steeped in outport traditions and aesthetics but inspired by the bold visuals of contemporary design. The result was an architecture distinctly of this place.

After conversations with British designer Ilse Crawford, Shorefast founder Zita Cobb applied the same approach to the Inn’s interior design. Called upon as a guide, Crawford pointed out that the Inn shouldn’t be filled with European furniture and décor. The interior needed to be as anchored in place as the exterior. Crawford helped gather a team of international designers who travelled to Fogo Island and met with local artists and makers. Titled Outport Aesthetics, the series of collaborative sessions led to the creation of every piece that furnishes the Inn, from the textiles to the furniture.

The Outport Aesthetics sessions resulted in furniture, textiles, and accessories that carried forward knowledge from the past in a contemporary and forward-thinking way.

A permanent workshop wasn’t in the plans, but demand dictated otherwise. Every object within the Inn is a cultural artifact imprinted with the traditions, heritage, and history of Fogo Island. Guests wanted to purchase the furnishings; doing so was like bringing a piece of the island home. And so, Fogo Island Workshops was established. 


The vintage barrel chair embodies a Fogo Island design fundamental: an economy of materials, or giving new life to used objects once they could no longer fulfill their original purpose. Barrels once used for shipping and storing flour became an ergonomic rocker. Designer Donna Wilson was inspired by this ingenious design and created the Bertha Chair, named for the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada.


Yvonne Mullock worked with local quilters to unearth decades of quilt designs that were made out of necessity and passion. The quilts and their makers shared these designs in a quilt parade, cataloging the different patterns passed down over generations. From this, Yvonne and local artisans worked together to develop a collection of quilts for Fogo Island Inn, each pattern providing warmth and a human touch to each room.

There was no plan beyond furnishing Fogo Island Inn but but demand dictated otherwise. Guests wanted to purchase the furnishings; doing so was like bringing a piece of the island home. And so, Fogo Island Workshops was established.

Design Evolution

After ten years, we continue to hold on to our heritage, while reaching out into the global design world with with new designs that do the same in a different way.

Holding On

Fogo Island Inn is a regenerative and sustainable initiative. Instead of discarding used furniture and textiles, a practice typical of the hospitality industry, Fogo Island Workshops repairs and restores design to extend longevity or repurposes older pieces into something new. The intention is to respect the energy and resources that go into each piece and ensure that furnishings last well into the next decade and beyond.

The recent refresh of the Inn’s dining room shows this – as the team pivoted to linen tablecloths, previously loved white cotton tablecloths were cut and repurposed as tray liners or to cover the morning Daybreak Basket, printed tablecloths were refashioned as napkins, and the Daybreak Baskets that had received a little too much wear and tear, were broken down and reassemble as bread baskets.

Reaching Out

The design within Fogo Island Inn continues to evolve as use or necessity dictates. New modern quilt designs pay tribute to the principles of heritage quilting by repurposing remnants and strips of fabric and bringing them back to life through storytelling and cultural context. Two new quilts by Janet Langdon now adorn select rooms of Fogo Island Inn: Reflection Harbour, which pays tribute to the small wooden boat, the punt, and Held Over Water, a homage to the stilts that hold the Inn and fishing stages over the land and sea.

Celebrate a decade of design with us

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