Know your còsagach from your lagom, hygge and wabi-sabi

A dictionary of international concepts and phrases are starting to influence interior design. The newest one is the Scottish word còsagach, described as a feeling of being snug, sheltered and warm.

 

The Danish concept of hygge and the Swede’s lagom have dominated design trends in the last two years. But now another northern nation has decided to jump on the bandwagon, and from bonny Scotland comes còsagach. 

It’s a Gaelic word, described as the feeling of being snug, sheltered and warm. Còsagach is all about embracing the outdoors from the indoors. Scottish tourism body, VisitScotland, who identified the trend, says it can be achieved in all seasons. 

Like hygge, it encourages being cosy, so in terms of interior design this means natural textures and hues, a fireplace and snug blankets. 

Còsagach joins the likes of other international concepts and ways of living such as wabi-sabi, ikigai (both Japanese) and gezelligheid (Dutch) influencing interior design. 

READ MORE:
The highs and lows of hygge
Kintsugi, the art of finding beauty in what’s broken
Goodbye hygge: 2017 is the year of lagom 

Còsagach, like hygge, celebrates a feeling of being cosy with warm colours and bringing the outdoors in.

BELINDA MERRIE/NZ HOUSE AND GARDEN

Còsagach, like hygge, celebrates a feeling of being cosy with warm colours and bringing the outdoors in.

 

But what do all these other words actually mean and how do they differ from còsagach? 

HYGGE:

Let’s start with the most talked about one; hygge. It’s Danish and pronounced “hoo-gah”. 

Hygge is the art of creating intimacy and enjoying the simple things (so it’s possible you’ve already experienced it without meaning to). The actual word is a noun and an adjective for “well being,” and has often been associated with the feeling of being cosy, similar to còsagach.

In interior design hygge is all about keeping things simple (think Scandi-style) but with little indulgences, and of course snug throws, a roaring fire and lots of texture. 

Alex Fulton suggested it’s about creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. “The warm glow of a candle, wrapping yourself in a duvet on a summer evening watching the flames of a brazier, snuggling down with a mid-winter book, these are all hygge.” 

IKIGAI:

This is a Japanese lifestyle concept that centres around the idea of ‘living your best life’. 

Ikigai is almost the antithesis of hygge. Instead of slowing down, it’s all about finding a purpose and going for it. It’s a reason to get up in the morning. 

In terms of interior design, it does have some similarities to hygge in that it encourages simplicity and flow. It even follows alongside a minimalist outlook by suggesting homes should only have items that have special meaning to the homeowner. 

Think buying less, buying better and having a mindful interior. It’s a combination of what you love, what you’re good at, what the world needs and what you can be paid for. It may be difficult, but finding an intersection of all these concepts is your ikigai. 

Ikigai is about living your best life, and filling your home with objects that have meaning and encourage flow.

BELINDA MERRIE/NZ HOUSE AND GARDEN

Ikigai is about living your best life, and filling your home with objects that have meaning and encourage flow.

 

WABI-SABI:

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Like ikigai and hygge, wabi-sabi values simple, uncluttered, underplayed and modest surroundings. 

It’s the art of finding beauty in imperfection, but not in a shabby-chic way. Wabi-sabi channels minimalism that focuses on the people in the space. 

Imperfection is what wabi-sabi is all about.

BELINDA MERRIE/NZ HOUSE AND GARDEN

Imperfection is what wabi-sabi is all about.

 

Authenticity is the key to this Japanese philosophy. Organic form, perfect imperfection and the handmade are all concepts to live by in wabi-sabi. Scratches and cracks in items aren’t seen as negatives, instead they’re celebrated as they’re seen as symbolic to the passing of time. 

LAGOM:

Pronounced “lar-gum”, this Swedish phrase means “not too little, not too much.” 

It’s all about moderation and celebrating behaviours like buying second hand items and crafting, as well as actions such as taking bed linen with you when staying at a friends how so as not to leave them with washing. 

It’s easy to think about lagom in terms of Goldilocks and the three bears: it’s finding just the right amount of something. 

In interior design this means creating a more sustainable home, consciously reducing environmental impact and creating balance. Similar to còsagach, lagom also teaches us to bring the outdoors in, by adding plants and a natural palette. 

Lagom is a way of life. It encourages sustainability and balance.

JANE USSHER/NZ HOUSE AND GARDEN

Lagom is a way of life. It encourages sustainability and balance.

 

Where hygge might be more about relishing a momentary state of snug bliss, lagom is more about a way of living. 

GEZELLIGHEID:

This Dutch word is pronounced “heh-sell-ich” and similar to hygee, còsagach and ikigai, it’s a blend of simple pleasures, cosiness, togetherness and contentedness. 

For the Dutch a house is not gezelligheid without a bunch of flowers.

JANE USSHER/NZ HOUSE AND GARDEN

For the Dutch a house is not gezelligheid without a bunch of flowers.

 

No house is gezellig (the adjective of gezelligheid) without a bunch of flowers in a vase or something second-hand. It’s all about being comfortable and relaxed. 

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