Winter’s here, there’s a chill in the air, the days are short and the nights are long… time to wrap up warm with Calladoodles’ woolly mitts, scarves, hats and socks and to prepare our homes for heart-warming nights in. Denmark's biggest export since Lego, hygge (pronounced “hue-gah”) is the now ubiquitous Scandinavian art of happiness created through cosiness, comfort and careful home styling.
One of the world’s leading happiness experts, and the bestselling author of The Little Book of Hygge, Meik Wiking, talks to friend of Calladoodles (and our media relations specialist) Angela Sara West about all things hygge and offers his top tips on everything from what to eat and drink, how to think, how to dress and how not to stress this Christmas.
So, the Danes are a happy bunch and now we know why! In a nutshell, what is hygge and what are the key elements for hygge-inspired happiness?
Hygge has been called everything from “the art of creating intimacy” and “cosiness of the soul” to “cocoa by candlelight”. The key ingredients include atmosphere, presence, pleasure, relaxation, savouring, togetherness, indulgence, comfort, equality, gratitude, harmony, truce and shelter. It’s a way of planning for and preserving happiness. The true essence of hygge is the pursuit of everyday happiness and it’s basically like a hug, just without the physical touch. Perhaps Benjamin Franklin said it best: “Happiness consists more in the small conveniences of pleasures that occur every day, than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom.”
Denmark is said to be the happiest country in world and the Danes have been into hygge for a very long time. Why has it taken so long for this wonderful trend to hit the UK?
I think there is so much interest in Denmark and the rest of Scandinavia because these countries often rank highly in the happiness lists. I do believe that Denmark can be a source of inspiration for how countries can increase the quality for their citizens and, perhaps, after all the drama in Scandi TV series The Killing, Borgen and The Bridge, we all need something a little more comforting; a little more hygge!
Now, more than ever, hygge is needed in this chaotic, unpredictable world. Hygge could serve as the antidote to the turmoil we find ourselves in now.
Here at Calladoodles, we’re going big on hygge, showcasing lots of hygge-inspired products and ideas both in store and on our website. What's the rule of thumb for making a home as hygge as possible?
The Danes are obsessed with interior design as our home is the hygge headquarters and central to social life in Denmark. Where other countries have a culture of socialising in bars, restaurants and cafés, Danes prefer hjemmehygge (home hygge). There isn’t a rule of thumb, but introducing a hyggekrog (a “hygge corner”) with a fireplace and candles, books and blankets, plus anything made of wood (the more rustic the better), are all good starting points.
A hygge interior is not just about how things LOOK - it's just as much about how things FEEL. Letting your fingers run across a wooden table, a warm ceramic cup or through the hairs of the skin of a reindeer is a distinctly different feeling than being in contact with something made from steel, glass or plastic. Think about the way objects feel to your touch and add a variety of textures to your home.
You mention in your book that some of the world's most beautifully-designed lamps hail from the golden age of Danish design. The Danes have lighting down to a fine art. What’s the secret to getting it spot on?
The first PH (Danish designer, Poul Henningsen, said to be the world’s first lighting architect, who was obsessed with light and known by his initials) lamp was an attempt to combine the stability of the electric lamp with the warmth of the petroleum lamp, as the first electric lamps emitted a horrible harsh light. Even today, Danes prefer warm, softer lighting, going for the lower end of the temperature scale when it comes to light. So, light comes from fireplaces, candles or well-designed lamps in the corners of the room, rather than fluorescent lights in the ceiling.
How have you created hygge in your own home?
I try to attach positive experiences to things, so different pieces of furniture remind me of different, nice memories. For instance, I bought a lovely chair to celebrate when I published my first book, which was a big thing for me.
How can we hygge through food and drink? What are the magic ingredients?
The high levels of meat, confectionary and coffee consumption in Denmark are directly linked to hygge. Hygge is about being kind to yourself – giving yourself a treat, and giving yourself and others a break from the demands of healthy living. Sweets are hygge-lit, cake is hygge-lit, coffee and hot chocolate are hygge-lit, too. Carrot sticks? Not so much…
Something sinful is an integral component of the hygge ritual. But it should not be something fancy or extravagant. Fois gras is not hygge-lit, but a hearty stew is. Popcorn is, too. Especially if we share the same bowl!
What are your tips for creating instant hygge, wherever we are? How can people hygge outside the home?
Anywhere, at any time, can be hygge, but I have noticed that such moments are created by one, or many, of these key hygge drivers: company, casualness and being close to nature.
You’re the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. What does your role entail?
I am committed to finding out what makes people happy across the world. We also try to develop methods to measure happiness and to figure out how to improve quality of life.
How did the Institute come about?
There were two reasons; firstly, in 2011, the UN published a resolution which stated that “the pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human goal” and, in 2012, it released its first World Happiness Report. Taking into account a number of factors, the report has been published every year since and I’m pleased to say that Denmark has topped the list four out of five times.
It occurred to me that somebody in Denmark should be trying to gather some intelligence because we’re doing so well in the happiness rankings. And then I thought, “maybe I should do that”! In a matter of months, I had quit my job and started concentrating on the global interest in what makes us happy.
Secondly, my mentor at work, who was both a good colleague and a personal friend, became very ill and died at the age of 49. My own mother also died when she was 49. When my mentor died, I was 33, and I was quite demotivated in my job. I thought, if I have only 16 years left… if I was only going to make it to 49… why not create something that could be really exciting?
And so you did! What was the inspiration for your book and how has it been received?
For years, we have been looking at the Nordic welfare model as the reason why countries do well in the happiness rankings, but we wanted to understand why Denmark does better than Sweden, Norway and so on. The interest in the book has been overwhelming. It is being translated into 20 different languages and I have spent the past month travelling around the world and talking about it.
Wow! Well, we’ve all fallen under the “hygge” spell… what will your next book be about?
That is a secret, for now, but I am really enjoying writing it and I hope that it will not only make people see happiness in a different way, but also the world from a different viewpoint.
Finally, what are your tips for a stress-free Christmas?
For many people, Christmas is a lot of work and stress, and I therefore think it’s even more important to keep reminding oneself of the hygge manifesto:
Turn down the lights.
Bring out the candles.
Build relationships and narratives.
“Do you remember the time we …?”
Take it in.
This might be as good as it gets.
Think “we” over “me”.
Finally, share the tasks and the airtime.
Wow – that’s inspiring stuff… Many thanks, Meik, and have a happy hygge Christmas!
Feeling inspired? Meik’s bestselling book, The Little Book of Hygge, is in store now. Give your home an on-trend update this winter with our collection of hygge-inspired clothing and homeware.
For further information about the Happiness Research Institute, visit: www.happinessresearchinstitute.com
© Angela Sara West 2016 www.angelasarawest.com
Whether it’s decorating the fireplace or setting the mood with fairy lights, world-famous interior designer to the stars and former Dragons’ Den investor, Kelly Hoppen, talks to friend of Calladoodles (and our media relations specialist) Angela Sara West about a few of her favourite festive things and divulges some of her top tips for decorating your home this Christmas.
I adore Christmas... From the beautiful decorations that adorn my tree, to hosting the family around the table for the festive feast, it is a magical and special time of year to spend with loved ones.
When it comes to decorating the home, each room should be touched with a sprinkle of Christmas cheer. Do not be afraid to have fun and mix textures and colours around your home. Adapt your home for the season by changing your accessories, updating your sofa with some new cushions and hanging some new art.
How about lighting?
Lighting is SO important – it helps to create the mood and set the tone. Fairy lights are a great way to add a beautiful magical ambience and are not just for the tree! Use them to decorate pieces of furniture or within your table to add a glittering look.
I also love burning a fire as this is a sure way to enhance the atmosphere and draw guests in with warmth.
Go the extra mile. It’s not always about designing the room to perfection, but looking at the project as a whole and how everything works together. The finishing touches, even right down to the scent of the room, are vital. Personal touches are key.
Personally, I like to display decorations with colours matching my tree (my favourites being silver and white). I love making use of my fireplace, not only for its function, but because fireplaces can be decorated gorgeously to become a focal point in the living room.
Try placing Christmassy trinkets, garlands or some of my kellyhoppen.com home jewellery on the mantelpiece to really adorn the space.
I am working on many exciting projects around the world and can’t wait to share these with you! I’ve just celebrated my 40 years in the industry and have never felt so in love with my job and excited about what is to come!
Kelly designs her own range of luxury products for the home, including accessories, bed linen, cushions, candles, furniture, towels, robes, jewellery and gifts, all carrying Kelly’s iconic style. She is also an ambassador for the Prince’s Trust, cultivating young talent and inspiring young people to pursue their business ideas, and an ambassador for the Government’s GREAT campaign, which showcases the very best Britain has to offer. Look out for Kelly’s books, such as House of Hoppen.
Check out Kelly’s Christmas Shop: www.kellyhoppen.com/christmas-shop
For information about Kelly’s projects, visit: www.kellyhoppeninteriors.com
© Angela Sara West 2016 www.angelasarawest.com