After your body, your home is the next most personal thing in life. It is a retreat, a sanctuary, a place where you should be able to close the door on the rest of the world and feel secure […] (The Monocle Guide to Better Living, 2013).
There’s a Danish word – HYGGE – that’s untranslatable into any other language, but which beautifully expresses the meaning of this trend. The word is untranslatable because it represents a state of mind: Danish hygge describes a sense of “feeling good” within oneself and with other people in a state of total relaxation and intimacy and a great many pictures, rather than words, sum it up perfectly. Sipping mulled wine in front of an open fire, wrapped in a woollen jumper, reading a book by candlelight, sampling a homemade cake and pouring tea from a Chinese tea set, lying comfortably on a sheepskin rug.
The Scandinavian root of the word (Norwegian, to be precise) means “wellbeing” and undoubtedly constitutes a response to the particular environmental conditions in those countries. This type of feeling/sensation is becoming widely used both to indicate contemporary lifestyles and as an extremely popular aesthetic trend in furnishings and interiors. Other cultures employ similar words: the Anglo-Saxon world would use cosiness, gemütlichkeit in German – to conjure up that feeling of wellbeing that comes from good food, a drink and good company – but only partly manage to render the concept of hygge which, as the translator ToveMaren Stakkestad says, “was not formulated for being translated but for being lived”. Hygge is rather more, therefore, speaking of an existential attitude to being self- indulgent and indulgent towards others, without denying oneself the small pleasures in life but, most of all, it speaks of the place of choice in which all this happens: the home.
Therefore it could be said that the word hygge stands for a way in which we live in our homes, that realm of comfort and receptiveness to which most people aspire, each with their own particular style, without being aware of its precise meaning.
Cosy Home is the trend that tells us just how central the issue of the home is to the lives and imaginations of those who live in them. Home meaning the spiritual place that reflects the way we are, a vibrant and “pulsating” universe in which planning and design serve to ensure ease and well-being and, therefore, constitute a means and not an ultimate end.
Thus Cosy is the lifestyle that promotes the element of authenticity, in which we surround ourselves with objects-affects. All those elements, therefore, that, along with gestures and rituals, enable any house to become “our” house and only partly chime with the dictates of “fashion”. In the words of Tyler Brûlé, editor-in-chief of the magazine Monocle, it should be, in a nutshell, the place “a home you want to live in, where your kids can grow up and dogs run wild.”
Fitty Wun is the California home of a couple with three children, designed to underpin a lifestyle encapsulated by the motto “work hard, play hard” and it achieves this to the full. The entire ground floor of the house, completely renovated by the practice Feldman Architecture, is a single space, the beating heart of the home, laid out like a hub in which cooking, eating, work, entertaining and – why not – playing take place. The large kitchen takes centre stage, serving also as an atrium onto which the upper floors look, with a swing hung from the ceiling, symbolising the relaxed and laid-back spirit of its owners.
The living area, connected seamlessly and transparently with the outside world by full-height French windows, corresponds to more private areas offering comfort and seclusion: the reading room, entirely clad in soothing wood, and an office pod on the top floor for a temporary respite from “chaos”.