Nordic by Nature
Hoo-guh. That’s roughly how you pronounce “hygge”, a vital concept of Danish life. Hygge is such an important part of being Danish that it is considered “a defining feature of our cultural identity and an integral part of the national DNA,” according to Meik Wiking, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen.
Given that A) the people of Denmark consistently rank in the top three of the World Happiness Index and B) we could all use a happier workplace, it makes sense to look into this Hygge business more closely.
Hygge as a lifestyle and cultural concept could take a few pages to discuss. In design terms, however, it essentially means cozy, warm, and simple. And this simplicity is the defining feature of Danish design; in fact, we can easily include Finland, Norway and Sweden here as well. When we think of Nordic style, we think of wood, clean lines, and minimalism without sacrificing warmth.
Go Hygge or Go Home?
One of the big trends in office design of late is to model your workspace after a co-working office. This includes an open concept, big tables, natural materials, and an overall work-from-home feel.
It’s only logical then that this Nordic style, this hygge-ness – long very popular at home – is also making its way into the office. Think clean lines for workspaces and conference rooms, a fresh feel overall with a mix of modern and traditional elements like wood and steel.
Functionality also comes to mind when deciding to go this route. A profile of the offices of gaming studio DOTS in New York showcases how this mirroring of co-working/work at home style with a Nordic touch can help to cultivate creativity in the workplace. This is essential stuff for unlocking the best from employees of a game design company, whether you’re in NYC, YVR or any other city that has enough coolness to be recognized by its airport code.
Of course, the type of work and corresponding work culture can’t be overlooked. “An insurance company in Stuttgart doesn’t really need to look like Facebook,” according to workplace design expert Jeremy Myerson. He was speaking for a dezeen.com piece – part of the Haworth white papers series – that explores the Haworth work cultures model. “Work is a serious thing… not all companies need a creative playpen.”
A very good point. But virtually every office could still use a refresh of some kind, and adopting a style patterned after the timeless designs of Northern Europe can serve as a breath of fresh air, or lüft. Lüft means “air” in Swedish. It’s a term used in their design circles that is often overlooked in North America – the idea that air and space are key elements to consider when creating an office layout.
So when it comes to re-doing your workspace in a Scandinavian way, you don’t need to be co-working in Copenhagen or do the heavy lüfting yourself, of course. We’d be happy to help.
More on the Haworth white paper series: http://www.haworth.com/research/research-topics/culture/how-haworth-can-help