Hygge in the Workplace [Video]

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Sapient Nitro, Toronto, ON. Photo © Tom Arban

Sapient Nitro, Toronto, ON. Photo © Tom Arban

What is Hygge?

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.

Hygge can be seen in the comforts of home

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 spaces. It 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.

Confidential client, Chicago, IL. Photo © Tom Harris.

Confidential client, Chicago, IL. Photo © Tom Harris.

“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. 




IA is a global firm of architects, designers, strategists, and specialists .We focus exclusively on environments through the lens of interior architecture—a radical idea in 1984, when IA was founded. We are highly connected agents of change, committed to creativity, innovation, growth, and community.




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Hygge isn't new, but our take on how it can be applied in the workplace might be.

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