Hygge, much more than design

By María Saco 2 years ago

There are words that don’t  have translation because evoke feelings, memories or situations that only can be understood through their emotions. For example, the Japanese word Tsundoko makes reference to that person that has the obsession of buying books and never read them. Or the African word Hanyauku is used for indicating that someone is walking on tiptoe in the hot sand. These are only two cases, but there are many expressions that are impossible to translate to other languages.

In the case of the word happiness, we are before a challenge. There is no doubt that it can be translated to any language felicità (Italian); felicidad (Spanish) or bonheur (French). However, if we ask by the true meaning of happiness… what would be your response?

Perhaps,  for some people can be a sunset in the field, a lemon ice cream in  July or a warm tea on a rainy afternoon. Then, we can say that the happiness is much more than a word, rather is a feeling.

And talking about happiness… What are the people more happy of the world? According to the Institute of Research on the Happiness, is in Denmark,  where they found the happiest people.

And it is there where arises the concept Hygge that we could translate it as a mixture of happiness, warmth, safety and well-being. So, in this post we will try to dig a little deeper on Hygge universe.




Let’s start! Where does the word Hygge come from?

The word Hygge is written in Danish for the first time in the early nineteenth century, although its true origin is thought to be Norwegian and meant “well-being.” But its origin as well as its meaning is not very clear. When defining it you can use some words like “comfort” or “happiness”. However, the concept “hygge” is much more complex. Do we try to join the pieces of the puzzle?


Hygge & lllustration

In the field of illustration, Hygge style presents a strong contrast. On the one hand, advocates for lines very minimalist where the geometric figures have a great importance. Circles and triangles make up abstract compositions. The color predominant is the black with shades soft. Is very common, that the illustrations minimalist decorate different spaces of the house.


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On the other hand, folklore is very present in the Danish illustration. Representations of animals (foxes, deer or bears), leaves and trees very showy contrast with the neutral shades of Nordic designs. This type of illustration is often used in dishes or vases.




Hygge & Interior Design

The Danish people love deeply the design and to understand their minimalist preferences in this field, it is necessary to know some historical data. Scandinavian design, which emerged in the mid-1920s, originated in countries such as Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway.

The functional and practical style is due to historical circumstances since at the end of the 19th century, the Scandinavian region was very poor, resulting in very simple furniture. Ornamental products were only available in a very small upper class.

In the 1920s, this modern and practical style was extended due to the growth of an emerging middle class. A decade later, the minimalist design occupied public spaces, a circumstance that facilitated the development of this style and its subsequent national importance.

And in the 21st century? For the truth is that the Nordic style, and of course the Danish, has maintained that functional line. Therefore, Hygge interior design should include the following elements:

1. Nature. This element is very present in the Danish interior design. And it is that twigs, leaves, nuts, flowers or wood trunks are welcome to a Danish house. Danes need to incorporate natural objects to feel connected to the world in which they live.


2. Wooden objects. While we have said that everything natural is essential in Danish decoration, wood is essential in furniture or decorative objects. But in other products of daily use like kitchen utensils, supports of computer or toys.


3. The delicate porcelain. Danes love decorative porcelain in either jars, vases or teapots. In fact, it is in Denmark that there are two of the most important porcelain factories: Kähler and Royal Copenhagen.


4. Blankets and cushions. Whatever the season, these two elements cannot be missing. Although it is advisable that the materials adapt to the time of year in question.


5. Mountains of books. The books fulfill a double function: leisure and decorative. The Hygge universe has a niche to create lovely shelves of well-organized book.



According to Meik Wiking, in his book Hygge: Happiness in Little Things, a good Hygge survival kit Is composed of:

  1. Candles as an indispensable element in any Hygge environment for their warmth and for that feeling of comfort they create. So get a good supply of candles and use them either winter or summer.
  2. Chocolate. Another element that cannot be missed. Yes, it is associated with sad moments in which a good ounce of chocolate raises our spirits. But why waste it in tears? When we can savor it with a big smile. One tip: turn your chocolate moment into a ritual.
  3. A book. And if it’s your favorite book better. Many of us have a special book that we have to read year after year. Find your moment and lose yourself in the old pages of your book.
  4. Wool socks and sweater. Do you remember the lovely Christmas jumpers? Well, in a Hygge survival kit can not miss.
  5. Music, whether Danish or English. The important thing is to make a good selection of the inspirational music. Melodies that comfort you in the gray days and fills you with energy on sunny days.

And after this brief introduction …Do you feel a little more Hygge?

By María Saco