Watch: Hygge in the Workplace

IA team members Nuno Moreira and Angelique Lucas-Witte discuss the design concept known as hygge. Centering around the concepts of coziness and kinship, hygge (pronounced hoo-guh) has influenced several projects in the IA portfolio by inspiring furniture selection, finishes, textile selection, and more.

Hygge is a Danish concept centered around coziness, wellness, and kinship. First appearing in the Norwegian language and popular in Scandinavia, the term is a descriptor of general wellness, but has since been co-opted by the design community to symbolize a movement towards warmer tones, natural, gentle textures, and designs that enable people to come together as well as allow people to find their own personal, comfortable space.

 The application of hygge to commercial design is a relatively new phenomenon, although its effect on residential spaces has been visible for decades.

The application of hygge to commercial design is a relatively new phenomenon, although its effect on residential spaces has been visible for decades.

Although the term has been used since the 19th century, it was only recently embraced by designers to describe a workplace strategy or aesthetic. Ironically, this new use may appear to run counter to the original intention of the concept (which sought to create as much distance as possible between the worlds of work and play). That being said, while many European practitioners still adhere to this first understanding of the word, in the New World it is now also commonly applied to office relationships and spacesIt is the implied sense of kinship and how people use space to both escape and come together that has attracted IA designers to some of the core sentiments of hygge.

Obviously a hygge approach is not appropriate for all environments and brands. But this style of living and working is indicative of a feeling that is becoming more common as our clients seek to describe some of the changes they’d like to see take place in their culture and workplace.

 This cozy meeting space we created for a confidential client in Chicago is emblematic of multiple facets of hygge, including warm undertones, natural textures, comfortable seating, and spaces that bring people together.

This cozy meeting space we created for a confidential client in Chicago is emblematic of multiple facets of hygge, including warm undertones, natural textures, comfortable seating, and spaces that bring people together.

“We want to promote a feeling of welcoming.” “We want to create a space where people feel enabled to come together.” “We need to create spaces that work for extroverts and introverts.” These are all sentiments that can be enabled by designing with hygge in mind.

To understand “how” hygge can be applied to the workplace to help realize these requests, we asked members of our design team to describe what it is and why it needs to be a part of workplace design.