Is Hygge Still A Thing? We Investigate.

published Sep 25, 2017
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(Image credit: Svenja Bruecker)

Hygge was one of Oxford Dictionary’s Words of the Year in 2016, when the concept of conscious coziness was everywhere. Apartment Therapy featured What Does Hygge Mean?, How To Add More Hygge, Hygge Can Be A Recipe For A Happy Life, Hooked On A (Hygge) Feeling…and a handful of other hygge-theme posts. (We also ran Hygge and Hot Chocolate way back in 2007.) But as we head into fall 2017, does the Danish philosophy still have a hold on us? The concept is one that should be perennial—it’s comfy, it’s cozy, who wouldn’t love that?!?—but is hygge as a trend still…trending?

(Image credit: Julia Brenner)

Hygge still going strong

According to some sources, hygge is still hot. In July, Paste Magazine called hygge “the latest design trend,” writing: “It seems like lately everyone is head over heels for hygge.” Also in July, Domaine included hygge in their roundup 6 Months in and We’ve Officially Found 2017’s Biggest Décor Trends and recently listed hygge as one of their Top Fall Decorating Ideas. A couple of weeks ago, POPSUGAR ran 11 Ways to Embrace the “Hygge” Lifestyle and Find More Joy, noting, “Now, in times of stress and unrest, more Americans are turning to hygge as a way to find happiness from within.”

It also appears that the trend has expanded beyond the walls of the home, as in August, Refinery29 ran 2017’s Biggest Hair Color Trend: Hygge “Blame America’s latest obsession with the Danish concept of hygge, because this year is all about warmth and comfort, with soft coppers, rich browns, buttery blonds, and creamy oranges poised to take the hair world by storm.” If your home can’t be hygge, perhaps your hair can.

(Image credit: Sophie Timothy)

Lagom, Friluftsliv & Kalsarikannit are the next hygge

For everyone who’s totally over hygge, never fear: Scandinavia has a few other lifestyles and philosophies you might enjoy. According to Vogue, Forget Hygge: 2017 Will Be All About Lagom:

Lagom, the Swedish concept of “not too much, not too little,” may dominate 2017 instead. Lagom translates to “enough, sufficient, adequate, just right.” Unlike hygge, which aims to capture a feeling, lagom is an ethos of moderation…

So before you go all in on cashmere throws and tea cozies in the name of hygge, consider adjusting your larger living philosophy instead. As appealing as it is to curl up in your one-piece pajamas these days, given the current state of the world, the more apt course of action may be to live a frugal yet fruitful existence. -Madeleine Lunkel, Vogue

If hygge was about a cozy feeling, lagom is all about finding the right balance between doing what you love, living frugally and being kind to the planet… Lagom is all about enjoying a balanced lifestyle. Instead of spending a lot of money embracing a new trend, it’s more about making small improvements to make a big difference in your life. -Kate Thorn, Brit+Co

Over in the UK, House Beautiful magazine lauded Lagom: the Scandi trend taking over hygge in 2017:

Elliot Stocks, co-editor and creative director of Bristol-based magazine Lagom, told the publication that hygge is a momentary state of bliss while lagom is a way of living.

‘I think hygge captures a moment in time, whether that be a short break in the day or something you try and work into your life every day. Lagom is an overarching concept behind your life in general. Rather than fitting a bit of lagom into your day, it’s more about your approach to your life as a whole,’ he said. -Katie O’Malley, House Beautiful

It might be a bit late in the year, at least here in the Northern Hemisphere, but Vogue would like you to be aware that Friluftsliv, A Norwegian Philosophy Emphasizing the Outdoors, Is the Perfect Summer Antidote to Hygge.

The philosophy was first conceptualized approximately 150 years ago, and can be translated as “free-air life.” More specifically, friluftsliv encapsulates the notion that returning to nature is akin to coming home. In other words, any camping, backpacking, or hiking expeditions would readily qualify as friluftsliv. However, we’d go ahead and say that your upcoming beach day does too. Enjoy! -Madeleine Lunkel, Vogue

And if returning to nature is not quite your style—or you don’t happen to live near any nature—New York Magazine encourages you to consider “kalsarikannit, a Finnish term that roughly translates to ‘drinking home alone in your underwear, with no intention of going out.'”

With kalsarikannit, the Finns have given us a similar gift: You’re not just being too lazy to make plans. This is your plan. You’re doing something, and that thing has a name, and that name is kalsarikannit-ing. -Cari Romm, New York Magazine

(Image credit: Abe Martinez)

Was hygge ever truly a thing for Americans (or rather, could it be)?

While much of the U.S. has winters that make hygge an ever-so-appealing concept, and while winter is indeed coming, The New Yorker points out depressingly that we simply might not have our act together sufficiently as a nation to really revel in hyggitude.

Like many of the best things from Scandinavia, hygge might seem, to some Americans, to come with a whiff of smugness. The term is often mentioned in the same paragraph that reminds us that Danes (or, depending on the year, Norwegians and Swedes) are the happiest people in the world. Perhaps Scandinavians are better able to appreciate the small, hygge things in life because they already have all the big ones nailed down: free university education, social security, universal health care, efficient infrastructure, paid family leave, and at least a month of vacation a year. With those necessities secured, according to Wiking, Danes are free to become “aware of the decoupling between wealth and wellbeing.” “After our basic needs are met, more money doesn’t lead to more happiness,” he told Elle UK. “Instead, Danes are good at focusing on what brings them a better quality of life.” -Anna Altman, The New Yorker

It’s the “after our basic needs are met” aspect that so many people in our country are missing. (And I have strong doubts life in Denmark is worry-free for everyone.) It can be hard to really sink into the hygge spirit—let alone afford handmade nubby socks, faux fur throws, and campfire-scented candles—when you’re drowning in student loan debt and crowdsourcing your healthcare. Perhaps we should give it another try in a few years?

This is not to say, though, that a pleasant home isn’t a worthwhile pursuit, or that you shouldn’t spend money or time on it! Self-care is incredibly important, and creating a comfortable, pleasant living space can be a crucial part of self-care. I reached out to Brinton Parker, who wrote 11 Ways to Embrace the “Hygge” Lifestyle and 12 Ways to Bring Hygge to Life in Your Living Room for POPSUGAR, and she said:

I certainly think that the hygge movement is still trending, even if brands and folks have stopped using the word itself so heavily for marketing purposes. There’s been a massive cultural shift in the past year or so to focus on self-care, and the hygge lifestyle is a great, achievable way for many people to do that in their own homes — especially as colder weather approaches.

(Image credit: Svenja Bruecker)