hyg·ge /ˈh(y)o͞oɡə,ˈho͝oɡə/ noun a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture).
There are moments in your life when you are purely comfortable. Maybe you recognize this feeling as one you experience when wrapped in a luxurious cashmere throw while nestled into your bed. Maybe you find hygge on your yoga mat in the warm classroom in savasana. Personally, this feeling comes for me with a cup of tea in my favorite chair, a buttery afgan on my lap as a candle burns casting a soft, flickering light. Hygge is different for everyone, but it is similarly blissful for all.
In holistic design, when integrated, this concept adds greater depth to the notion of home being a place for replenishment and healing. After all, deep relaxation where you find yourself comforted from the crown of your head to the tips of your toes creates a feeling of calm so pure that it carries into your day-to-day.
The recent popularity of hygge comes at an interesting time as Scandinavian concepts make their way into the forefront of home, hospitality, and office design. In fact, reports from all over the world, especially the UK, agree that the trend is here to stay. This sleek, clean, natural pallet is about minimalism, functionality and well-constructed items that are built to last. In essence, it is about creating spaces that don’t clutter the mind, but maintain an irresistible air of effortless, comforting, breezy style.
Typically, trends like this, especially those inspired by underlying, defining principles of specific cultures, come and go. However, the timing of the popularity of this trend aligns with a change in our cultural mindset. It seems, a collective awareness has been reached about how busy and overwhelmed we have become, and simple, clean, yet irresistibly cozy elements of Scandinavian design offer a solution.
As we think about integrating Scandinavian concepts into the spaces we inhabit, taking the concept a small step further, hygge is a natural progression.
THE SCANDINAVIAN WAY
First, let’s delve into the must-haves of Scandinavian design. Remember, minimalism is key. We have discussed this in several blogs, however, our most recent post, the Marie Kondo Effect discusses in-depth this popular organization expert’s theories.
Once your home is clear of clutter, focus on a natural, clean color pallet. Following the most recent trends, billowy shades of white juxtaposed with soft grays, natural wood, and stark black create a clean feel that leaves the mind uncluttered.
When you move through and style your home, remember that you want each and every corner to look clean, yet intentionally styled. On surfaces like small side tables, keep things clear. On longer, less used surfaces, like those behind a sofa, choose a lamp that casts soft light and just one or two decorative items that evoke happiness and remind you of calm, blissful times. My favorite example is a piece of tactile, yet smooth driftwood from a trip to a nearby beach. When I run my hands along it, I still recall the soft lapping of waves and the sound of water lapping.
INTEGRATION OF HYGGE
Hygge is a feeling. But it goes beyond the feeling of home. Some would venture to say it is more akin to pure, unadulterated happiness that cannot help but seep into your being, and therefore, your life.
This means intentionally integrating items into the spaces you occupy (and this includes your workspace, even if that space is a cubicle). The first, and arguably most important, is a hyggekrog, or a nook. This nook, which can be a chair or anything else that makes you feel cradled, becomes the focal point of your hygge space. Scandinavians suggest integrating pillows, blankets, or any other items that provide personal comfort. To keep the theme of streamlined minimalism, I like adding a storage ottoman into the space. However, I suggest keeping your comfort item, like a cashmere throw, visible, providing a reminder that your space is ready for you whenever you need it.
Candles or a fireplace offer the soft, flickering light I mentioned earlier. This concept of burning–specifically burning wood, is hyggelig, or something that inspires the feeling of hygge. Additional elements include wooden furniture pieces that can move through the home from clothing racks to tables, stools, and more. Vintage items also play a part as pieces with a story steeped in history offer an esoteric richness that comes with the passage of time.
Ceramics and books also encourage a feeling of hygge. These offer the chance to connect with other worlds while interacting with new, meditative textures. Ceramics should be beautiful, but should harness certain tactile qualities, including imperfections, thumb depressions, or even unique overall textures. My personal favorite is a stark white mug covered in small, but satisfying clay beads.
Finally, hygge must encompass nature. The presence of natural beauty, especially old, even historical trees is a staple in Scandinavian life. Position your hyggekrog near a window. If you do not have a perfect window, consider planning the construction of one. This project is straightforward for a contractor, and will pay off in dividends as hygge permeates your life.
There are not many movements that I report on that I feel are not only permanent, but vital. Hygge is a data-proven method to increase happiness and drive wellbeing. As a holistic designer, I cannot stress enough the value of harnessing this concept and hope to join you as you seamlessly integrate hygge into your everyday life.
Laurence Carr is founder & CEO of Laurence Carr Design, an award winning interior design firm in New York City providing full service and e-design services to clients. She creates exquisite holistic interiors that promote mindful living and harmony, while attaining a level of sophistication through layering modern art, furniture, antiques and accents. Born in France, Laurence has 20 years experience in design, the performing arts, and fashion. She has been nationally published and is a frequent speaker and panelist in major industry related events.