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The Bearable Lightness of Hygge

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The Bearable Lightness of Hygge

With clocks turned back and winter setting in with long hours of low light, darkness and absence of colour, and with Christmas around the corner, now is a good time to reflect on the Danish concept of hygge.  “What is that,” you may ask? “I can’t even sound it out!” Pronounced “hooga” (VisitDenmark.co.uk), “heurgha” (Telegram’s Helen Russell) or “hue-gah” (hyggehouse.com), it may be one reason why this Nordic country with long dark winters, consistently tops all countries for having the happiest people.

Derived from the Norwegian word for “wellbeing” and imported into Denmark in the 1700s, hygge means creating a warm atmosphere by using ambient design to encourage intimate social interaction. According to Alex Beauchamp, an ex-pat Dane living in the US and host of her own hygge house blog, it is about the “art of creating intimacy” whether alone in one’s own house, with family or with friends. In just one word, she states, it captures the ideas of multiple English terms: cosiness, charm, happiness, security, familiarity, comfort, reassurance, kinship, and simpleness.

More than a design statement, says Russell, it embodies “the absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming; taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing things.” Nothing exemplifies Hygge more than the simple but rewarding pastime of sitting around a table “discussing the big and small things in life.”  The long nights at Christmas is its high season.

But design – as well as good food - does play a central role. It is the physical infrastructure that facilitates a reduction in stress and anxiety while gathering people together with furniture designed for comfort while creating intimacy and connectedness.  Candles play a huge role and explain why, says Russell, the Danes burn more candles per head than anywhere in Europe (European Candle Association). But it also includes low-slung light fixtures over a dining table, furniture and accessories of natural materials such as wood and leather as well as lamps designed to cast enveloping pools of restful light. It includes, we also believe, intimate objects that serve no other purpose than to delight, amuse or provide tactile detail.

Being Danish, Hygge involves not overstuffed, cluttered environments but ones characterized by simplicity in which carefully selected and employed elements create a stage for cozy, focused interaction.  It is an idea dear to Made Modern’s heart and clearly found in many of our products.  Of course, we have the elegant and very popular Kubus Candle Holders from by Lassen designed by the late Danish architect in the 1950s (as well as their candles!).  Check out also Hubsch’s, Nur’s and Normann Copenhagen’s candle holders and the Pipeline Candle Holder by Nur Design. 

For light fixtures to focus light over your dining table, kitchen island or sofa, take a look at the delightful printed fabric lampshades from Kitty McCall or those from Innermost.  Examples of pendent lights able to create defined light boundaries include Gantlight’s Concrete Lights and Innermost’s colourful glass Snowdrop.  These designers also provide us with table lamps that create pools of light on a winter night; but also have a look at Elmer by Bellila.     

Made Modern prides itself in its strong collection of stylish but often whimsical accessories to cheer up the darkest winter night.  Add cheerful oak animals from ArchitectMade or colourful acrylic critters from DNDC

Additions for your hygge-friendly home are many and varied at Made Modern, such as the ever popular ceramic and wood tea/coffee cups from Finland’s Tonfisk or the just-in pillows and rugs from Normann Copenhagen and from Bomedo.   

Now is the time to prepare your house for the Christmas hygge high season; or to find just the right thoughtful Christmas gift (at all price levels) that will give the gift of hygge to friends and family.

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