Winter Trend Watch: Cozying Up to Danish Hygge
Architecture & Interiors
Whether or not hygge is here to stay is anyone’s guess, but there can be no doubt that this Danish concept, which includes a contemporary interior design esthetic, is most definitely here. Somewhat nebulous by definition, hygge (pronounced who-guh, and loosely translated from the Danish as ‘cozy’) or hyggelig has Scandinavia written all over it—which is to say, it endorses restraint, tranquility, and community, and, as such, is wholly inviting to those of us inhabiting a considerably less tranquil culture. Lately, spreading the word on hygge has become something of a winter design obsession, yielding an endless stream of casually attractive vignettes, replete with chunky blankets, hot cups of cocoa, springs of herbs, and loads of all-around homespun goodness.
Home—or, more accurately, refuge—is, in fact, a key component of hygge, no doubt owing to Denmark’s interminable winters, and how little incentive they provide to leave home. Staying in, pulling close, and keeping the elements at bay all work together neatly to foster home-bound indulgences, like textural richness, home cooked meals, the flicker of candlelight, and the kind of down home visual elegance we normally (and enviably) associate with Scandinavia. In other words, separating hygge from what we’ve come to associate with Denmark’s esthetic tradition is very nearly impossible.
Not surprisingly, though the origins of hygge are a bit deeper than the current craze belies, speaking to something more emotional and cultural than purely visual, and extending beyond the home to overall social connectivity. “When Danes say that a social gathering is hyggelig, it also means that no one will discuss opposite opinions about politics, the economic development, or raising children,” says social anthropologist and hygge expert, Jeppe Trolle Linnet. “Conflicts or conflicting opinions are not perceived as hyggelig. Should someone disagree on a subject and a discussion start, you can be sure that it will be put to an end with a quick remark.”
Modern design trends, however, tap into something a bit more immediate, and the current fixation on hygge offers a timely excuse for combating the coldest months with sumptuous blankets and hot tea, infusing dark days with the golden glow of candles, and ditching digital devices for simple analog pleasures. If all this sounds suspiciously like good old winter common sense—and looks a whole lot like plain old Nordic good taste—to you, it does to us, too. But, hey, we can think of worse things than pouring over beautifully composed home interiors during long winter evenings.