At the beginning of each year, Pinterest puts out a trend report, encompassing all of the rising design trends, based on year over year popularity data. In January of 2017, “hygge” topped the list for the coming year, and as predicted, hygge has infiltrated the design world. By nature, hygge lends itself well to the holidays and to the winter season. Its Nordic background puts this warm, comfort-filled trend at the forefront of holiday decor.

Exactly what is hygge anyway?

Hygge, pronounced “hue-guh”, cannot easily be pinpointed to a simple definition. The word itself is Danish, derived from the 16th-century Norwegian term, hugga, which means “to comfort.” The term “Hygge” is described by the Oxford Dictionary as “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.”


History of Hygge

The concept of hygge was originally created by the Danes in an effort to survive long periods of monotonous cold, dark time. They used hygge to bring warmth and contentment to otherwise unhappy days.

While there is no single English word that is synonymous with “hygge,” we’ve found a way to portray it visually.

American Happiness vs. Nordic Happiness


According to the 2017 World Happiness Report, the top 5 happiest countries in the world are as follows:

  1. Norway
  2. Denmark
  3. Iceland
  4. Switzerland
  5. Finland

Notice a trend? 4 out of 5 of the happiest countries are Nordic countries, and the other is a neutral country that hasn’t fought a foreign war in over 200 years (no wonder they’re so happy). With the United States coming in at number 14, it looks like we could learn a thing or two from them. This table compares the United States to the Nordic countries in 2016 using these factors:

  • Ladder: A happiness or subjective well-being score (0-10) determined from the national average response to question of life evaluations
  • Freedom: Freedom to make life choices (0-1)
  • SUPP: Level of perceived social support (0-1)
  • LGDP: Log Income per Capita (growth rate)
  • CORRUPT: Overall perception of level of corruption (0-1)
  • HLE: Healthy Life Expectancy based on data from the World Health Organization and World Development Indicators by the World Bank Group (in years)
  • DONATION: Generosity of donations
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Though the United States’ GDP is higher than all but one of the Nordic countries, its ladder score, perception of freedom to make life choices, and healthy life expectancy are the lowest. The perceived level of corruption in the United States is exponentially higher than that of the Nordic countries, contributing to the lower happiness levels.

There is clearly something to be said for the simplistic, warm Nordic culture, as it relates to overall happiness and contentment. With the modern reality of longer office hours and commutes in the United States, workplace happiness is vital.  

Hygge in Design


Hygge is one of the top design themes for 2017, specifically the holiday season, and Ambius employs the trend to create stunning holiday scenes.

The key to hygge design is simplicity and minimalism. Texture and natural, warm coloring bring the feeling of comfort to life with items such as candles, wool/fur fabrics, and blond wood. Louisa Thomsen Brits, the author of “The Book of Hygge: The Danish Art of Contentment, Comfort, and Connection,” refers to it as “a practical way of creating sanctuary in the middle of very real life.” This is precisely why Ambius uses hygge in office design, to create a mental retreat amidst the inevitable chaos of the workplace.


As a picturesque design superstar, Hygge plays a prominent role in visually-based social media. The concept has a large following on Pinterest boards such as J’adore Hygge (242,678 followers) and Get Your Hygge On (423,980 followers). Additionally, “Hygge” has been tagged in over 2.5 million posts on Instagram.

Ambius creates office designs that inspire productivity and happiness. Contact us today to find out what we can do for your office.

Want to learn more about well-being in the workplace? Check out Why Biophilia Matters and How Wellness and Well-Being Went Mainstream.

Download our holiday decor idea book!