farrell architecture


A Little Hygge All Night Long


I read an article on a website for a magazine popular with millennials. It was written by a journalist, living just outside NYC who was tasked with experiencing the Danish term “hygge” for the weekend, which in her initial definition meant not clubbing and maybe Netflix and chill instead. It was the most preposterous thing I’ve ever heard…but the task was fitting for a generation that has patterned themselves after cats.

I’m not sure I can fully convey the deeper meaning behind the word “hygge” except to say that it certainly is not something one can set out to accomplish in a weekend with a few trips to IKEA for sheepskin throws and some candles. Hygge is a developed sense of being, more akin to the fuzzy softness of a bird’s nest after accumulating years of downy feathers from baby chicks.

Danes have a different sense of home than a 20 something living in Hoboken. A Dane might prefer to spend a dreary Danish winter night at home with friends, sipping (ok…slogging) mulled wine because they’re homes are fundamentally different from a brick apartment building in Jersey. The Danish economic system, is all it’s socialist glory, is set up to even out the highs and lows of economic disparity. Where a young adult in the US might stretch their paycheck for a 300 SF studio in the city, a Dane may find a comfy 1 bedroom with a fireplace. One apartment begs you to explore the city, coming home to use your toothbrush between social outings, the other is a collection of comfortable spaces and favorite reading spots.

I can see millennials gravitating towards hygge though. Look what they’ve done with the modern office space. Long gone are the rows of office cubicles with heads popping up like startled gophers peeking in on neighbors. Formal furniture like you might see in an episode of Mad Men has been replaced with foosball tables and bean bags arranged next to big picture windows. My cats were the same way, chasing little balls and drifting strategically through the day to lounge in the sun spot.

One thing millennials will find frustrating is the inability to order hygge online. You may hire an architect to create a setting of warm woods, bright windows, and cozy nooks, but hygge is not a collection of things you buy. Sure, there are those things that contribute to hygge, often kept over the years for sentimental value or because they are exceptional at their job, like a teapot or pair of wool socks, but hygge might be better found in who you share these things with and how you use them, like cold toes slowly warmed up under a shared blanket. There will probably never be an emoji for hygge.


Hygge Emoji.jpg
Ben Farrell