The Swedish Art of "Lagom"

Just When You Thought You Had Understood "Hygge" There's More to Learn

Dining area in Casa Ljungdahl in Stockholm, Sweden, was designed by Note Design Studio. (Photo: Note Design Studio)

architecture & interior

Some of the most important everyday concepts in Nordic life are encapsulated in words and phrases that are difficult to translate into other languages (e.g., the Danish concept of hygge, which can be understood as a rather broad concept of coziness). One of these words is lagom. Translated literally from Swedish, lagom means "enough," but can also mean "in moderation." And yet, these simple translations are not nearly the whole story of lagom.

 

Droop with cream colored walls above blue built-in cabinets. (Photo: Noto Design Studio)
Note Design Studio took the inspiration for the simplistic interior of this loft on the top floor of a Stockholm apartment from images of a cashmere coat, a pair of sand-colored sneakers, and a piazza in Rome. Each of these images defined the timeless character, materials, and colors the client desired in her home. (Photo: Note Design Studio)

 


»Lagom is a concept deeply ingrained in Swedish society and is all about finding a balance that helps you to best enjoy life.«

 

Niki Brantmark, author of the blog My Scandinavian Home and the book Lagom: The Swedish Art of Living a Balanced, Happy Life, puts it this way: "Lagom loosely translates to mean, 'not too much, not too little, but just the right amount.' It is a concept deeply ingrained in Swedish society and is all about finding a balance that helps you to best enjoy life."

After emigrating from London to Skåne, the province in the very south of Sweden, Brantmark not only embraced the culture of her new home but also immersed herself in the art of lagom, which permeates every area of Swedish life: "lagom helps remind us to keep a healthy work-life balance, to slow down and eat a proper lunch, to focus on single-tasking, and, in the home, to try and create a calm oasis that is also warm and inviting."

 

A home that is not cluttered doesn't have to be minimalist. Lagom translated into interiors definitely means including old and new accessories that are both functional and decorative, seasonal elements from in from the outdoors, and plants. (Photo: Anders Bergstedt, Styling: Pernialla Algede)

 

A home that epitomizes lagom, says Brantmark, will "not be too minimalist or too cluttered, but will be an uncomplicated mix of interesting forms and practical function—objects both old and new—and will include seasonal elements brought in from the outdoors, such as plants, flowers, and pebbles from the sea." With lagom as a guiding principle both in her work and in her home, Brantmark says she has learned "how to go back to basics and enjoy the simple things in life, in a wonderful, uncomplicated way."

 

This feature is an exclusive preview from Northern Comfort–The Nordic Art of Creative Living.

 


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