91 is reading... the book of Hygge

Image by Laura Pashby

Image by Laura Pashby

Hygge, the Danish art of living well, is a concept that's become extremely popular in recent months. Described by author Louisa Thomsen Brits as 'a quality of presence and a feeling of togetherness... a feeling of being warm, safe, comforted and sheltered', hygge was part of our inspiration for the latest issue of 91, and it provided the theme for this issue's Instagram Edit.

With winter approaching, hygge has become a much-used (perhaps even over-used) word, but hygge is about much more than just coffee and candles, and this beautiful little book by Louisa Thomsen Brits provides an enticing explanation of the origins, traditions and truths of a fascinating philosophy. Half Danish, half English, Louisa Thomsen Brits is perfectly placed to communicate the language of hygge: 'as a Dane, hygge is bred in her bones. As an Englishwoman she can comfortably translate the concept and share its universality as an impetus common to us all. '

Photo: Susan Bell

Photo: Susan Bell

The Book of Hygge is divided into six sections:

Belonging; Shelter; Comfort ; Wellbeing; Simplicity and Observance.

Each section is illustrated with stunning photographs by Susan Bell, taken mostly in the home of Louisa Thomsen Brits, or in her aunt's Danish apartments. These quiet images exude contentment and balance, with their elegant simplicity and their precise use of light.

Photo: Susan Bell

Photo: Susan Bell

Intelligently written, and full of heart, The Book of Hygge combines theoretical explanation with personal anecdote and emotional resonance. To help us to understand the meaning of hygge, Louisa Thomsen Brits draws on historical and cultural examples, as well as on genuine instances from her own life and experience. We discover that hygge can be present in the smallest of gestures and the humblest of moments.

Photo: Susan Bell

Photo: Susan Bell

This book's greatest power comes not in teaching the reader to create hygge (although it certainly does so), but in showing us how to recognise and appreciate that hyggelig experiences already exist in our  lives. Seeing this with clear eyes allows us to nurture hygge, and to welcome it into our everyday. The Book of Hygge is the perfect book to keep on your nightstand: to immerse yourself in its calming pages, reflecting on its message of comfort and appreciation before you drift off to sleep.

Photo: Susan Bell

Photo: Susan Bell

If you'd like to hear more about hygge from Louisa Thomsen Brits, she is giving a talk about creating hygge in your home this Friday (18th November)  1-1.30pm, as part of our collaboration with West Elm. The talk is free, although Louisa will happily take donations to her chosen charity (the Clock Tower Sanctuary- a drop-in service for young homeless people) on the day. Register your interest here, to help us with numbers.

You'll also find Louisa over on Instagram.

Finally, if you don't have one already, remember that you can buy yourself a copy of the latest issue of 91 Magazine here.