Urban Island has opened its doors after a 16-year journey. What started at a design school in Sri Lanka is now a permanent boutique in the swish Rosedale neighbourhood. Urban Island’s story embodies passion and craft, but a commitment to making a difference as well. What began as a movement at the Academy of Design (AOD) in Sri Lanka, has since evolved into a brand eager to instill and inspire.


At the heart of Urban Island’s mission lies the fusion of design and artisan craftsmanship. From homeware collections to fashion, Urban Island’s timeless collections undergo meticulous crafting by women artisans in Sri Lanka. Firstly, it’s beautiful and functional but, more importantly, they feature items you’ll actually use again and again.

These artisans employ age-old techniques passed down through generations. Each product not only showcases exceptional design but also contributes to building livelihoods.

Urban Island proudly empowers communities and sustains traditional crafts. Through each purchase, customers become part of Urban Island’s mission to make a meaningful difference. Their motto, “The way you live is the way you give,” reflects their commitment to inspiring customers.

urban island yonge street


Skilled female artisans in the village of Mandaram Nuwara craft Urban Island’s designs with pride. They employ traditional methods as well as sustainable materials. For instance, fallen branches become beautiful baskets.

“Our purpose and mission revolve around designing and delivering opportunities that create sustainable livelihoods at the grassroots of Sri Lanka’s communities,” states Linda Speldewinde, Urban Island’s Founder.

urban island textiles

Urban Island is dedicated to conserving the planet. Furthermore, they make eco-conscious decisions, from recycling materials to reducing waste and adopting efficient transportation methods. The brand’s commitment to sustainability is evident in its preference for traditional cotton yarn over modern polyester yarns. This also allows weavers to fully embrace their heritage.

The handwoven throws, emanating from the weaving village of Divulapitiya, make for perfect gifts. Each weaver diligently crafts their unique patterns and colourations while carefully executing the intricate process of weaving and finishing. Urban Island’s placemats, crafted from chunky handwoven cotton sourced from weavers in the Gampaha region, exude simplicity and perfection, ideal for informal dining.

urban island baskets

Basketware hails from the Jaffna region, where Urban Island has established a women’s training program to uplift the post-conflict communities of the region. The dried leaves of the Palmyra trees are painstakingly prepared by hand for dying. After drying, they weave them into simple, yet elegant designs. The collection seamlessly marries the authentic rustic roots of local weaving but with a new, refined aesthetic.

Urban Island offers a range of exquisite treasures, spanning from $20 to $500, all accessible at urbanislandofficial.com. Furthermore, these treasures grace the brand’s flagship store at 1134 Yonge Street in Toronto, which opened its doors to the public on Friday, September 15, 2023.

All images by Libby Roach.