Design of a Decade

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 that marries outport aesthetics with contemporary design, creating a truly authentic architectural experience. 

After conversations with British designer Ilse Crawford, Shorefast founder Zita Cobb extended this place-centric approach to the Inn’s interior. 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.” An international team of designers visited the island and collaborated with local artists and makers. These design sessions, titled “Outport Aesthetics, resulted in furniture, textiles, and accessories that seamlessly blend traditional knowledge with a forward-thinking approach. 

Fogo Island Workshops emerged in response to guest demand. Visitors sought to take a piece of the island home with them, leading to the establishment of this permanent workshop. 


The vintage barrel chair is a prime example of Fogo Island Workshops’ design philosophy, emphasizing an economy of materials and repurposing used objects. Barrels that were used for shipping and storing flour became an ergonomic rocker. Designer Donna Wilson created the Bertha Chair based on this ingenious design and named it for the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada. 


Quilting developed on Fogo Island as a utilitarian act, born from necessity. Old clothes, empty flour sacks, and well-worn fabrics found new life as quilts, providing warmth to families. 

Yvonne Mullock collaborated with local makers to unearth all manner of quilt designs and catalogue them. With this framework, Yvonne and local quilters worked together to develop a collection of quilts for Fogo Island Inn, adding warmth and a personal touch to each room. 

Design Evolution

Looking forward, Fogo Island Workshops remains rooted in our heritage while expanding our influence into the global design landscape.  

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, restores, and repurposes these pieces to extend their lifespan. 

For instance, when the Inn’s dining room switched to linen tablecloths, the white cotton tablecloths were cut and repurposed as tray liners or used to cover the morning Daybreak Basket. Printed tablecloths were refashioned as napkins, and well-loved Daybreak Baskets were broken down and reassembled as bread baskets. 

Reaching Out

The design within Fogo Island Inn continues to evolve based on usage and necessity. New modern quilt designs pay tribute to the principles of heritage quilting by repurposing fabrics and giving them new 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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