Happy new you: hygge

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On the 31st December, 2016 came to a rather shuddering halt as we stumbled into 2017, hopeful for a bit of simplicity to counterbalance the barrage of confusing and complicated events that the previous year delivered.

Cue Hygge, the hard-to-say (higg? hoog? hiyg? hoo-gah?) and hard-to-translate Danish word which you may never have heard of, but is set to be one of the biggest new influencers of our consumer and lifestyle habits this coming year.

Although Hygge’s closest English counterpart is ‘cosiness’, it requires a broader translation, perhaps – ‘a lifestyle comprising the pleasures that you associate with everyday life’ – be it savouring a pot of coffee, wrapping up in a warm blanket, eating comfort food, or just relaxing and doing nothing.

It’s a frustratingly simple concept and, unlike most lifestyle trends that get you working towards a ‘better you’, Hygge focusses (and delivers) on achieving an immediate moment of gratification. And, after a troublesome year full of unrest, intolerance and loss, we might need Hygge more than ever to help us focus on the present.

Hygge is an integral part of Danish and Scandinavian culture and has influenced centuries of its heritage, not least its iconic designs (you only need to look at Arne Jacobsen and Bang & Olufsen) which hold simplicity, strength and style in the highest esteem.

Essentially, Hygge is the lifeblood of Nordic design, making it a treasure trove of marketability.

Unsurprisingly, the premium-end of the British market latched onto this trend a while ago, providing an exclusive supply of Nordic design to the few who could afford it, Arlo & Jacob and Skandium being just a couple of companies that have already found solid ground in the UK.

However, as is with the life-cycle of trends, the exclusive status of Nordic design has gradually begun to infiltrate value retailers who are applying the same basic concepts to their own-label products.

Look no further than the shining beacon of budget British sofas: DFS. Their sofas are toned down with low-slung, curved bases; their chairs and tables are dark, thick and sturdy in an unmistakably Nordic style.

Online stores like Very are also showing clear Nordic influence in their ranges with plush, folky textiles and tough, mahogany-hued bed frames.

Christmas is known as Hygge’s ‘high-season’ and its visibility has been at an all-time high across the UK.

You might have noticed that the windows of our bookshops over Christmas were peppered with books like The Little Book of Hygge, The Art of Hygge and The Year of Living Danishly. These books are clever, tempting you in with their warm and comforting promises of a more wholesome life and then hooking you on all the other trappings that are ‘essential’ to achieving a ‘hyggelig’ life.

And of course with DFS and Very being just two of many retailers that are in the Hygge loop, said trappings will be readily available up and down your local high street. Perhaps you are already converted and maybe even traded in your wispy, polyester Christmas tree for Wilko’s rugged, wooden juletræ last Christmas, having abandoned clashing colours and extreme tat for their cooler and chicer older brother.

So here’s to a more mindful, present you for 2017. The only thing we’re not wishing for this year is Nordic weather!

Words by Freya Routledge