Posted on April 02 2018
What is HYGGE? How is it pronounced?! (hue-guh) is difficult to explain in one sentence. It's not a tangible, more a feeling, an atmosphere created for one's inner peace and coziness. I think this Danish word sounds like a lot the English word "hug". That sound about right!
I think we can all agree that the world has gotten a bit crazy, too much stimulation, too many gadgets and devices, too much noise, increasingly wasteful and transitory. We have learned to embrace and live with these ever changing conditions. But how are we doing? How are we coping?
I think overall fairly well. But we need help to keep us charged and grounded. HYGGE is about recognizing our innate wanting to be snuggled up and cozy. It's about the conscious desire and pursuit of feeling safe and sound.
We must somehow be yearning to recreate our infant experiences of being swaddled. We could get lost in a good book, sit in a comfy chair by the fire, wrap a wooly blanket around us, or have a warm conversation with friends. This is HYGGE. Creating a warm glow from a candlelight dinner or enjoying the festivities of the yuletide season, those are also very HYGGE. It's that mmmmm....feeling from sipping a hot chocolate or mulled wine.
HYGGE is all around us and within us wherever we go. We just need to conjure it up as needed. It's a dose of good medicine when things get too hectic and crazy.
However, this Nordic notion isn't restricted to colder months. Some ideas for HYGGELIG (Hyggelike) summer activities include picnics in the park, home cooked BBQ'S, bonfires on the beach or a fire pit in your backyard. It's also an outdoor movie night, harking back to the days of the Drive-In. HYGGE is also what's around us.
There are some who believe that Interior Design is just fluff and has very little significance in 'the real world'. They consider it to be an overindulged aesthetic pursuit, shallow and unimportant, just a waste of time and money.
I beg to differ.
I don't believe it's a coincidence that the popularity of HYGGE came at the same time as the growing interest in stripped back interiors and a resurgence of Scandi-designs and mid century furniture. People seem to be developing a strong desire to get back to basics, opting for use of natural materials in their natural states, striving for a de-cluttered and fresher aesthetic.
Walls have become lighter, wood floors have shed their dark stains and shiny varnish. More and more people are opting for clear coats of oiled surfaces instead. Clean lined furniture is preferred over anything King Louis or Queen Victoria would have liked. An honest and uncomplicated space is good for a calm and relaxed mind. This is HYGGE.
So far, my description of HYGGE sounds sort of like New Age ideology, almost hippy like, let's just let things be, chill out, relax and lie like broccoli. But how this Danish concept has translated into living spaces, is anything but laissez faire. To be calm, we need to work at it. It doesn't just happen.
Same goes with interior spaces. To create visual and aesthetic harmony requires a lot of effort. Today's Hygge interiors are INTENTIONAL and CONSIDERED, requiring people to carefully curate. Everything in a room is special, not just gathering dust and forgotten. Colours are not jarring and spaces have breathing room. Reminds me of my favourite adage - it's hard work having fun.
A lot of effort goes into creating a warm environment, warm but controlled. Reminds me of a neighbour who always moans that whenever her house is cluttered from everyday life, the visual chaos makes her mind feel cloudy and disoriented. I definitively agree!
One of the best ways to achieve interior harmony is to bring the outdoors in. What is more natural than nature itself? Reclaimed wood clad walls are fresh, unlike the dreaded basement panelling of decades past. And install the wood planks horizontally, not vertically, which can really date a space. Thanks to successful husband and wife design shows on television, we have new favourite vernaculars such as shiplap, live edge and honesty of materials. Craftsmanship is desirable again, after decades of happily living in a very mass produced society.
What isn't HYGGE? Allowing your devices to take over your life, waiting for updates on social network sites, opting for more solitary pursuits in an fluorescent light filled room with the blinds closed. Or shopping mindlessly and making unnecessary purchases for an already chock-a-block full home.
To be truly HYGGE, hide under your blanket and read a good book or to enjoy the company of wonderful people. Remember to appreciate the simple things that bring joy to your life. Don't forget the candles. That's the most HYGGELIG accessory, according to the Danes.