Hygge ('hue-gah'): The Simplicity of Belonging

In Louisa Thomson Brits', 'Book of Hygge', she defines Hygge as not only the Danish art of living well, but also as a quality of presence and an experience of togetherness. It is "an experience of selfhood and communion with people and places that affirms us... to Hygge is to invite intimacy and connection... [it is the feeling] of belonging to the moment and to each other... Hygge is about being not having".

Hygge has been at the centre of Danish culture and art of living for many years. It derives from the Old Norse words hu (thought, mind, culture) and hyggja (to think).  Hygge is a social ethos, which developed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, during the time when the cultural focus shifted from urban development to leisure and comforts of home life. The Danes' priority on freedom and wellbeing has propelled Hygge into the mainstream in the UK, with books such as Louisa's hard to miss as you window shop Urban Outfitters and the like. 

Set Design by Ash Halliburton Photography by Tre & Elmaz

Set Design by Ash Halliburton
Photography by Tre & Elmaz


Hygge and Sustainability

Hygge finds it's home cradled in aspects of our lives including Shelter, Wellbeing and Simplicity. Sustainability goes hand in hand with the Hygge ideal, which finds meaning in living simply, doing things mindfully and with a true appreciation for your environment. The connection with the simpler life prioritises decluttering, functionality and appreciating time spent on meaningful endeavours that increase your contentment levels. Activities such as growing your own food, gardening, volunteering, taking pleasure in cooking and baking as well as going to the farmer's market lead us naturally to live more sustainably. 

Some Danish sources claim that to Hygge essentially means to slow down. When we are not rushing around we are less likely to make unhealthy choices for ourselves and the planet. We take time to live in the present instead of seeking to consume and rush about leading us to waste less time and resources.

“Hygge really is at its heart all about sustainability. Sustainability is holistic: it involves aligning our behaviors and our values for wellbeing in our environment, our pocketbooks, our communities and our bodies.”
— www.duluthbudgeteer.com

Of course here in London it is not so realistic to assume we can all grow our own plants, visit farmer's markets on the regular or find the time to indulge in cosy crafts. But Hygge asks us "to individualise to our own needs" so that we can reduce consumption and spending, leaving room for longer lasting and higher quality choices. Perhaps there's a reason why Denmark has the lowest use of plastic bags in Europe. Focusing on slowing down, on quality time and quality of life for ourselves and others could arguably mean the difference between remembering to grab that tote for your next shop or jot down a mindful list to avoid over-purchasing. 

What do we really need and what can we go without. The comfort and the priority Hygge puts on living in the present and making healthy choices that can maintain said 'state of bliss', means asking ourselves that question more regularly. 

Set design and prop styling by Ash Halliburton Photography by Christopher Polack

Set design and prop styling by Ash Halliburton
Photography by Christopher Polack


Our creatives at Novel Beings all work with the most sustainable and ethicals means and practices. We endeavour to deliver high-end imagery at no extra cost to the environment, and our newest addition, Ash Halliburton, embodies this completely. 

To enquire about Ash's prop styling and set design availabilities for your next shoot or production, email bookings@novelbeings.com.

To Vegan or Not to Vegan?

In honour of World Vegan Day we look at some of the reasons why veganism is finding favour in today's millennial generation (and beyond). 

So What is a 'Conscious Creative'?

What sets Novel Beings' artists apart is that we do not just provide a quality job, but we truly consider how the way we live and work impacts planet, people and animals.

If you ask any of our artists why they use the products or brands they use, they will have an informed answer. Veganism, and it's implications on our work, is certainly a consideration for many of our creatives.

Food styling and photography by Josie Taylor

Food styling and photography by Josie Taylor


The Environmental Impact

Have you noticed the staggering rise in veganism since the release of Cowspiracy in 2014? We certainly have! While being vegan is not a criterion to joining our agency, there are a number of the tribe that have made this choice for not only animal rights reasons, but environmental ones.

The Biggest Intervention People Could Make Towards Reducing Their Carbon Footprints Would Not Be To Abandon Cars, But To Eat Significantly Less Red Meat
— Professor Tim Benton


Statistics like "animal agriculture gulps up a hefty 56% of water in the U.S. alone", or that "meat rearing has lead to the deforestation of over 91% of the precious Amazon rainforest" are alarming. When compared to vegetable staples like potatoes, wheat and rice, the impact of beef per calorie is extreme, requiring 160 times more land and producing 11 times more greenhouse gases. When cutting our personal CO2 emissions greatly is as easy as avoiding meat, it begins to seem like a bit of a no-brainer for us even if it sad to think of a world without steak frites.



The Human Impact

World Hunger: 

The reality is, the majority of crops grown worldwide do not go towards feeding people, they become feed for livestock. And this is way more than throwing livestock our leftover scraps. Around 85 percent of soy grown globally is ground into soy meal that becomes livestock feed. Additionally, for every 100 calories of grain fed to livestock, we only get three calories of beef in return. If one person were to skip eating meat for one day and eat only plant-based instead, they could save enough grain to feed 40 people. By diverting the grain we feed to animals to people, we could feed 1.4 billion hungry people.

Public Health:

Animals kept in factory farms are subjected to a life in an extremely confined space where they are constantly surrounded by their own waste. This life is incredibly stressful for an animal, which can take a toll on their immune system. It is estimated that 80 percent of pigs have pneumonia when they go to slaughter. In an attempt to combat illness, antibiotics are mass-administered to animals in their feed. Animals in factory farms are rarely given veterinary care, so these antibiotics are basically the only medical treatment they will receive in their lives.



Not to mention: The Health Impact

  1. Significantly Increases Risk of Cancer
  2. Increases Risk of Heart Disease & Diabetes
  3. Eating Meat Makes It Harder to Maintain a Healthy Bodyweight
  4. Meat Carries Highest Risk of Foodborne Illness
  5. Most Meat Has Hormones In It
  6. May Make You Resistant to Antibiotics




The Animal Rights Issue

A factory farm is a large, industrial operation that raises large numbers of animals for food. Over 99% of farm animals in the U.S. are raised in factory farms, which focus on profit and efficiency at the expense of animal welfare.


    •    Cages and overcrowding.

    •    Physical alterations, like teeth-clipping or tail-docking, performed without anaesthetic. 

    •    Indoor confinement with poor air quality and unnatural light patterns.

    •    Inability to engage in natural behaviours.

    •    Breeding for fast growth or high yields of meat, milk and eggs that compromises animal welfare.

    •    Neglect of sick and suffering animals, often due to the high ratio of animals to workers.

    •    Misuse of antibiotics to compensate for unsanitary conditions.

    •    Rough or abusive handling by workers.



The Ethical Compromise

We are not out to be “Vegangelists” but we do believe in the power of awareness and education in all that we do. Although the above has very strong points as to why to opt for a vegan lifestyle, we are not blind to the fact that there are many alternative foods that are incredibly unsustainable in their own right.  A lot of vegan foods contain palm oil, a resource that is depleting natural ecosystems in Asia and South America - which let's face it, isn't very "animal-friendly." The monumental growth in the popularity of almond milk has left expanses of land in drought.  Our unabated consumption of quinoa, left the tribes that use it as their primary nutritional source are going hungry. The fact is, we’re living on an overpopulated planet and we no longer have the luxury of turning a blind eye. We don’t necessarily have to reach the extremities of veganism, consider buying seasonal and locally produced produce.  Mindful consumerism and a keen interest in other living things will naturally lead you to make more ethical decisions.

Would you consider partaking in Meat Free Monday's on your next shoot?

A Festival of Lights.

In preparation for Diwali.

Styling by Lauren Becker for John Lewis.

Styling by Lauren Becker for John Lewis.

The Backstory

Diwali, known as the festival of lights, celebrated by Hindus across the globe, observes the significance of the triumph of light over darkness and the spiritual connotations of good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair. 

The main festival, Diwali night, falls each year on the darkest night of autumn in the Northern Hemisphere. The new moon of the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika. In the western world (governed by the Georgian calendar) this night falls somewhere between mid-October and mid-November every year. 

This year Diwali will fall on Thursday, 19 October and run through to Monday, 23 October.

A Celebration

Its celebration sees millions of lights shining inside homes and business and outside across streets and rooftops. Hindus use this time to renovate and redecorate their homes and offices. To bring out the finery. It's a time to dress up in their finest clothes and celebrate!

We're going to celebrate with these gorgeous images from our prop stylist, Lauren Becker, for John Lewis.

Want to book Lauren for your next shoot?

Is it time clean eating got a little dirty?

Our food and well being influencer, Josie Taylor, shares her opinion on the the dirty side of clean eating.

Food Styling, Photography and Words by Josie Taylor

Food Styling, Photography and Words by Josie Taylor


I’m not keen on the term ‘clean eating’. As Nigella Lawson says, it implies that there’s an antithetical form of eating that is somehow ‘dirty’. It’s a phrase so absolute in its intentions that it renders almost all of us helplessly (and shamefully) nutritionally inadequate.

However you may feel about Team Clean’s choice of words, it’s hard to ignore the impact the movement has had on our food landscape. No longer confined to patchouli-scented hippie buffets, healthy eating is now as ubiquitous as a Starbucks coconut milk flat white or a cold-pressed juice from Pret. And hey, I’m not complaining. My life as a consumer has benefited greatly from the mainstreaming of ‘clean’.

But health is more than the simple nutritional arithmetic of what we put in our mouths. It’s how we eat, why we eat, and the way we feel about ourselves when we do it.

My wariness gets piqued whenever I hear words like ‘bad’ and ‘naughty’ creeping into diet vernacular. Indeed, many a poor online editor has borne the brunt of my emails requesting the removal of the words like ‘guilt-free’ from my recipes. No amount of expensive sugar alternatives will make those pancakes ‘guilt-free,’ my friend. That is, until you actively choose not to feel guilty about eating them.

We live in an age where, as the food writer Michael Pollan puts it, food can’t just be good to eat, it must good to think, too. But what happens when that thinking gives us cause to continually beat ourselves up for making the ‘wrong’ choices? And they are just that: choices. Choices made by informed adults – not ‘naughty’ children who’ve ‘been ‘bad.’

Once ‘naughty’ gets removed from the equation, moments when a not-so-clean choice is made become conscious, almost romantic experiences. Like those orgasmic women in chocolate adverts, totally present on a suede couch just… loving a bit of chocolate.

My fantasy for the future of nutrition sees the pendulum slow to a sweeter spot where that age-old vitamin ‘pleasure’ can sit comfortably alongside nutritional density on our plates. A #health that understands life is not always ‘clean’, and that vitality can arrive in many forms. As Oscar Wilde once said, “everything in moderation. Including moderation.” That, to me, is what real nutrition is all about.

The Fresh Ginger

Josie Taylor is a London based food stylist, vital food chef, presenter and writer. A certified Health Coach with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York, Josie’s believes in nutrition without the neurosis.

As a stylist and cook, Josie is passionate about working with organic and sustainable produce. She has a colourful, fluid style, grounded in a life-long curiosity for all things food. In particular, the beauty of natural foods and the social and environmental impact of the choices we make. Qualified as a Junior Chef, Josie loves to create food that makes people feel amazing.


If you're interested in booking Josie for your next shoot or event, do get in touch.



How to improve your mood in one word. Smile.

It's World Smile Day, so here are some reasons to smile.

Makeup by Khandiz Joni for FutureFrock. Photo: Thea Badilley

Makeup by Khandiz Joni for FutureFrock. Photo: Thea Badilley

A Brief History World Smile Day

Harvey Ball put pen to paper and created one of the most iconic symbols known to man. The "smiley face." A circle, two dots and an upturned curve. His symbol has gone on to inspire everyone from graffiti artists, letter writers' to emoji designers.

Ball later expressed his discontent with the commercialisation of his symbol as it took away from its original meaning and intent. So in the interest of restoring his belief in the simple act of smiling, he created World Smile Day in 1999. A day devoted to the spreading of simple joy and love to all, regardless of race, gender, or geographic location.

The Science of Smiling

We've all heard the concept that smiling reduces stress. We also know that in our stressful industry, mustering up a smile isn't always the easiest thing in the world to do. But did you know that smiling not only reduces mental stress but physical stress too? It has the same physical reaction as getting some really good sleep or even eating a slab of chocolate because it stimulates our brain's "reward" mechanism. In a recent scientific study, scientists concluded: “that smiling can be as stimulating as receiving up to 16,000 Pounds Sterling in cash.”

Now there's a reason to smile!

Source article.

Fake It 'til You Make It!

Believe us when we say that we know what it is like to want to curl into a ball and sob our eyes out over the general state of the world, our declining economy, the effects of climate change and difficult clients, to name but a few. What if we pushed back against all these dreadful things and every time we want to burst into tears or a fit of rage, instead we force out a smile? After all, it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile, so think of it like you're giving your face a rest.

Here's the thing, the more you smile, the less stressed you are. The less stressed you are the more productive you are. The more productive you are, the more [insert your preferred "more" here] money you bring in/bookings you make/happy clients you have/the more goals you achieve (we could go on).

The average person smiles about 20 times a day. A "happy" person (the ones you either love or loathe) smile between 40 - 50 times a day. Children smile around 400 times a day. So if you're struggling for some smile "know-how" hang out with your kids, or your nieces and nephews. After all, smiling is infectious.

Need more reasons to smile?  Here are a couple more that we've borrowed some from verywell.com

1.                Smiling Makes Us Attractive

2.                Smiling Boosts Your Immune System

3.                Smiling Makes Us Look Younger

4.                Smiling Helps You Stay Positive


We'll Give You A Reason to Smile

By hiring our creatives, you are guaranteed a top notch artist with a joyous personality and the assurance that the products and practices they use to produce their won't harm people, planet or animals. (Yes, all three are part of our selection criteria.) 

We also don't cost the earth! Get in touch today to discuss your shoot and available budget.