59.3293° N, 18.0686° E
Sprawling across 14 islands, consisting of one third water and one third green space, Stockholm is the quintessential Scandinavian city. When you think about Sweden forget Ikea and Pippy Longstockings, what draws me to Stockholm is the minimalist Scandinavian aesthetic and constant waft of cinnamon scrolls. Whilst in Stockholm I stayed in the creative heart of Södermalm, and although there is plenty of transportation I found Stockholm to be a beautiful walking city full of water ways, blazing sunsets and sun dappled trees.
55.6761° N, 12.5683° E
Hygge (pronounced hoogah) is a Danish concept that roughly translates to “cosiness” in English, but it is so much more than that. To paint you a picture, imagine having a nice home-cooked roast with your nearest and dearst by the fireplace with candles glimmering as the snow falls outside — feeling cosy yet? that’s hygge. Whilst roaming the Copenhagen streets lined with pastel homes and watching people enjoy an alfresco candlelit meal, I couldn’t help but feel an air of cosiness too — no wonder the Danes are the happiest people on the planet.
I also got to stay in the most charming apartment built in 1797 in the heart of Copenhagen. The tilting support beams and wonky windows added so much character, not to mention the beautiful heritage glass ceiling! Every morning I woke up to sun dappled light pouring in from the windows, and by night scattered candles would provide the perfect ambient glow to wind down to after a long day of sightseeing. Needless to say I never wanted to leave, but I definitely took note of some of the hygge qualities I wanted to incorporate at home to recreate the same atmosphere.
Hygge: A Beginner’s Guide
1. Danish homes are relaxed and informal, whether it’s a basket of slippers by the front door, or a candle lit on the sideboard, it creates an intimate and inviting atmosphere.
2. Minimalist Scandinavian homes aren’t just about white walls and expensive furniture. The Scandinavian design aesthetic is about natural light, wooden floors, green plants, fresh flowers and the smell of coffee brewing.
3. William Morris obviously understood Scandinavian design in the 1800s when he said “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
4. The glow of living light is key to capturing the essence of hygge; basically just light candles everywhere!
5. If hygge had a scent it would be clean, natural, woody and fresh air. Open your windows and enjoy the perfume of Gardenias and Jasmine as the sun sets. I also picked up a candle from Scandinavisk, which perfectly embodies the Scandinavian way of life.
6. Creating hygge obviously involves having the people you love around you. Dinner parties shouldn’t be contrived and stressful, it should be simple one-pot comfort food by candles and relaxing conversations.
7. Create comfort and cosy corners in your home. Think soft worn in linen bed sheets, or a low hung lamp by the sofa where you can curl up to read a good book with a cup of tea.
Naoshima is a small island located in the Seto Inland Sea of Japan. For decades it was a sleepy fishing community before it became a destination for contemporary art and architecture. This was a result of an agreement in 1985 between Benesse Corporation and the then mayor; Chikatsugu Miyake.
Known as the “Art Island”, Naoshima contains some of the most impressive galleries like Benesse House, Chichū Art Museum and Lee Ufan Museum, which are unmistakably designed by Japanese superstar architect Tadao Ando .
On my second trip to Japan, I wanted to visit places that were a little off the beaten path, and somewhere that appealed to my interest in design and architecture. A friend, who is a seasoned traveller to Japan enthusiastically told me about Teshima Art Museum, with something along the lines of “Dude! water comes out of the concrete floors! you have to go!” and she was right, I just had to go and see this art installation myself.
On any given day, waking bleary eyed at 3 a.m to the sound of my alarm gently coaxing me to consciousness usually results in an uncoordinated fumble to hit the snooze button. On this day though, I dutifully got up and went through the motions of the morning routine, because 8 months prior, I excitedly purchased flights to Japan without realising the consequences of a 6 a.m international flight. The following few hours were a blur honestly, I admittedly binge watched the latest season of Girls, and when my eyeballs felt like they were about to fall out from dryness I just slept. I think being able to sleep on a plane without the aid of any melatonin is one of my greatest skills, I’ll be sure to put that down on my resume next time.