The Danish Concept of Hygge and How It's Moving the World to Be Cozy and Comfortable
In the winter, with chilly winds blowing in from the Baltic Sea and snow falling gently on the roofs of their houses, the Danish cozy up together before a fireplace, lounging on knit rugs or comfortable sofas with soft blankets over them to keep them warm. They enjoy the quiet company of loved ones as the fire makes shadows dance across the room.
It’s a picture-perfect scene of hygge (HOO-guh), a Scandinavian word that’s come to represent an ideal lifestyle for many across the globe. It is most commonly understood to be a sense of coziness that evokes feelings of warmth, contentment, welcome, and sociability.
In recent years, hygge has seen greater incorporation into home design, with the Scandinavian concept growing in popularity in the global market. Characterized by clean lines and minimal shapes, Scandinavian furniture design can now be found all over the globe. Danish luxury furniture designer BoConcept, for instance, has more than 265 stores in over 65 countries.
The global market for furniture was valued at $331 billion in 2017, and is expected to reach $472 billion in 2024. This growth is mainly attributed to the increasing demand for luxury furniture, driven in part by the residential and commercial property developers. Today furniture is no longer just a functional accessory, but also a furnishing that exhibits the consumer’s taste and values. Because of this, BoConcept has learned to take a customized and holistic approach to the production of their furniture:
Manufacturers look to get their supply from other regions. The chair, for example, might use steel from China, foam from Eastern Europe, and fabric from Italy to not only save time and delivery costs, but also to make sure that the materials they use are of the best quality. For instance, the leather they use to make their chairs are sourced from the finest tanneries in Europe and South America—and a certain German tannery that supplies BoConcept also supplies leather to luxury car brands like Porsche.
Even details as minuscule as the kind of feathers used in their sofa cushions are accounted for—feathers from aquatic birds are lightweight because they often take off from water, and this attention to detail and BoConcept’s commitment to high standards and functional materials is precisely why they pride themselves on the quality of their furniture. They use the finest materials and make sure to consult with experts from around the world, and this ensures that their furniture is of the highest quality from its most basic parts. The globalization of their supply chain has become essential to their process because sourcing the best materials from around the world means efficiently creating the best-quality furniture at the best pricing.
What remains, however, are the trademark Danish quality standards, design philosophies, and production techniques. To say that BoConcept’s furniture is not genuinely Scandinavian because of this would be a disservice to their designers and manufacturers. Scandinavian design prides itself on durability, and BoConcept has optimized this in their furniture by sourcing the best materials in the world.
Materials undergo rigorous testing to see if they can be worked with. Fabrics, for example, are expected to surpass the 150,000 rub threshold of the Martindale test for wear and tear. Their globalized chain allows them to work with Ratti SpA, the world’s leading fabric designer that also supplies to designer brands like Louis Vuitton and Prada. Using the best materials makes it possible for BoConcept pieces to pass rigorous testing from Technological Institute of Denmark, on top of other independent testings, thus creating a properly hyggelig piece that has a sense of stability, timelessness, and durability. People need to feel like they can rest their full weight on their dinner table without fear of it snapping. They need to feel secure their guests enjoy the same comfort and functionality they do with the pieces today as they did years before. In general, every piece of furniture is ensured to be an investment that lasts a generation or longer.
As they cater to a global market, BoConcept is wise in being able to customize their furniture for different cultures. It isn’t reasonable to expect that all Scandinavian markers of comfort are the same as those in other countries, especially since climate plays a big role in defining what it means to feel comfortable. In the tropical Philippines, for example, BoConcept has learned that customers favor cooler fabrics for upholstery. And because Filipino culture tends to lean towards different palettes compared to Danish homes, the showroom offers shades outside the usual neutrals, while still maintaining the design philosophy that each piece should fit in with the aesthetics of any room it’s put in. The high variance of housing materials used to build Filipino homes has also opened up the option to customize the materials with which the furniture is made; certain dining chair collections, for example, can be made with one’s choice of wood or steel.
Despite all the adaptation that hygge has undergone to cater to the global market—from material choices to visual design elements and more—Danish furniture designers manage to stay true to the concept, creating pieces that customers feel at home with almost immediately. Rather than succumbing to the stagnancy of tradition, manufacturers have instead evolved the meaning of hygge to a more universal one, adapting to each culture their service without losing sight of their Scandinavian roots.