In an increasingly globalised world, the adoption of foreign words into everyday use is a fait accomplis, a trifling event that excites librarians and logophiles alone. But what’s often fascinating about these hybrid pieces of vocabulary is how they give rise to a new emotional language, in many cases revealing a new voice for a previously elusive feeling.
Anyone who has travelled to Latin America will have heard the Brazilians express their Saudades — a feeling that no English word can fully explain, but which describes a profound melancholic longing for an absent someone or something. We have all encountered the Danish principle of Hygge, the wildly popular lifestyle movement that transformed modern living rooms into intimate, tactile cocoons for much of 2016. And now there is a new Scandinavian import finding traction in the sketchpads and recommendations of designers, and it goes by the name of Lagom.
When literally translated from Swedish, Lagom means “not too little, not too much, but just enough”. On a superficial level this might relate to the small satisfaction of a perfectly made coffee, the snug fit of a tailored blazer or the exacting touch of the masseuse as a knot is a worked loose.
But beyond the material world, Lagom becomes something much more sophisticated.
It is equilibrium of the mind and spirit — the balancing act of a busy life that has reached perfect fulfilment. Lagom preaches moderation and responsibility, returning as much as we take and making conscious choices to reduce our impact on the world around us. Artistically, it refers to making contemporary living spaces less complicated and more resonant, trusting in the soothing beauty of organic materials, clean silhouettes and artisan craftsmanship. Lagom commands us to reclaim our modern living spaces from the draining presence of physical clutter and make space for the possessions and experiences that matter.
“It is both a coping strategy and a cure, a wonderful law that can be practised during the rough times and the smooth.”
So how might one create a Lagom interior? Well, to start with there is no need to look exclusively to Scandinavian furniture brands, although these can of course be an excellent source of Lagom inspiration. Simplicity is essential but this does not dictate the deprivation of small luxuries, rather it encourages a minimalist approach to your decor and a “buy once keep forever” mentality.
FOCUS YOUR CREATIVITY
Start by creating a focal point around which the rest of the room will come together. This could be a statement designer sofa or a contemporary armchair illuminated by a slender floor lamp. Fritz Hansen’s Ro Easy Lounge Chair, Ligne Roset’s Calin Sofa or B&B Italia’s Solo ’14 Sofa are excellent places to start, their simple silhouettes and sumptuous comfort convey timeless elegance with minimal effort.