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.