Beating the Winter Blues / by Helen Zouvelekis

I hate winter!

It’s easy enough to get through it by staying busy with the holidays in December, but January through March always feel long and dreary. That’s why every year, when the weather drops below 40°, I begin my hibernation by settling in with hot tea, a good book, a crocheting project and a big pile of blankets until it’s warm enough to go outside again or until cabin fever sets in. This year I turned to Hygge, the Danish art of happiness, to learn to make the best of winter!

Hygge (pronounced as hue-gah) has been trending on the internet for a while now, but it’s more than just a pinterest fad. It is a way of creating a cozy atmosphere to foster a sense of safety, comfort and togetherness. It’s not a design aesthetic, though space does play an important role in creating this feeling of warmth. There is a social element to hygge that goes beyond just coziness.

Hygge is an act, a feeling, a precious moment. 

Some easy ways to promote hygge are pretty obvious: hot cocoa, cozy socks and a fireplace, or just a scented candle. But there are many other, more abstract concepts that can be explored to build this atmosphere and help subconsciously create a sense of intimacy and togetherness.

Whether you’re cozy indoors or out for a snowy hike, winter is the perfect time for hygge.

Many cultures have similar ideas for how to achieve comfort and happiness, although Denmark, being repeatedly rated the happiest country on Earth, seems to have mastered it!  You can learn more about it in The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking, a quick read that outlines the basic elements and its application.

1-AK_Hygge Blog (3).jpg

Mostly it is good design sense that can be applied more liberally to residential and hospitality projects where the goal is to create a comfortable environment for end users to relax in. However, there are some lessons to be learned for other space types as well! Already we’re seeing workplace design trends overlap with residential styles. Although there is rarely an opportunity for candles in the office, warm indirect lighting without glare can create a similar effect. Visual texture and natural materials are vital, since we tend to be happier when we feel connected to nature. Lastly, it helps to have objects that are old or otherwise have a story behind them that connects you to a different time or place.

Finely crafted objects remind us that quality takes time to develop, both in things and in relationships we cherish.

The warm seasons can be hyggelig too!

1-AK_Hygge Blog (7).jpg

Below is my inspiration board of hygge environments, from cozy cabins to biophilic office spaces. 

https://www.pinterest.com/alkoret/hygge-inspiration/

This may all seem very intuitive and it is! However I found that reading The Little Book of Hygge didn’t just teach me how to get through a dreary winter successfully like the Danish do, it also made me think more consciously about achieving happiness and renewed my focus on creating and appreciating more hygge moments.