The one time my family decided to plan a vacation based on the place we were lodging, it turned out to be the best decision we ever made as a globetrotting clan of four. We managed to find a rented villa in a mountain community of Salobreña, Spain, not knowing anything about the area or the the must-see spots. Turns out, we had plopped ourselves right in the middle of a relatively tourist-free zone among scattered cave entrances that were more likely than not occupied by gypsies. The entire space was decorated simply to the taste of the region—wall hangings of the castle we could see from the front balcony, woven curtains with traditional patterns of the local heritage made by women in the community, kitchen tiles depicting local delicacies, the list goes on. It was the feeling we got walking into the home that really resonated with us years after the trip.
I would imagine you'd hit a similar note of welcome when visiting Fogo Island Inn—minus the gypsies, of course.
Located on a tiny Canadian Island near the Polar Circle, Fogo Island Inn worked with Designer Chris Kabel (of Sticky Lamp and Seam Chair fame) to bring a bit of the local outdoor aesthetic indoors with two fantastic design touches. First up: key fobs. While cheap and easy to replace, key cards lack a certain je ne sais quoi. Kabel found 29 different items from the ocean shore, a fisherman's shed and the local supermarket to serve as the themed keychains for each of the Inn's rooms.
Nautical knots, lobster claws, pieces of coral, tool bits, seashells, etc., take on totemic significance, like 'Monopoly' tokens, as symbols of the region. "Together the key tags become the chapters of a book about the present and past daily life on the island and its rough nature," Kabel says on his website. The fobs are cast in bronze, guaranteeing they'll last longer than that card that needs replacing every time you set it next to your cellphone.
His next touch comes in a curtain design that cover the conference room at Fogo Island Inn. Made with a glow-in-the-dark yarn, the shades depict the area's Northern Light show when the lights are turned off and the curtains are drawn.
"In the darkness the woven pattern seems to float in space, producing a realistic impression of the famed Northern Lights," Kabel says. The soft gradient was produced by digitally embodying the pattern onto fabric with help from TextielLab in Tilburg, the Netherlands. "When the conference room lights are turned on, the glow in the dark yarn of the fabric loads up. When the lights are turned off for a presentation, the fabrics glow with a soft light." Sounds like the perfect atmosphere for making sound decisions—or catching a mid-slideshow disco nap.
One can only hope that bigger hotels might follow suit and give us a little more design character to look forward to aside from tiny pillow chocolates and branded shower caps. What do you think—do the small design details make or break (or have anything to do with) a vacation stay?