Happy New Year! If you have been following the various word-of-the-year shortlists and design trends, you may have noticed that the Danish hygge has recently been dethroned by a new Scandinavian it-word – the Swedish lagom.
Lagom is translated loosely into English as the Goldilocks principle of ‘not too little, not too much, just right’. While the concept itself is not unique to the Swedish language — I can think of its Turkish equivalent ‘taman’ — the Swedes seem to embrace it as a way of life.
I first heard the L-word from my Swedish colleagues a couple of years ago and it really spoke to me. Lagom is the way I like to eat, dress and have fun. It is the amount of sugar I put in my coffee and that of makeup I put on my face.
The opposite of excess, lagom is about ‘all things in moderation’ — enjoying but not overdoing it, striking the right balance and finding harmony in doing so. And then lagom is also special because it is inherently linked to the concept of sustainability.
Sustainability — or sustainable development — was originally defined by the Brundtland Commission in its report Our Common Future as the ability to ‘meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’.
In fact, one theory is that the word lagom originated from a ritual where Vikings were encouraged to sip their fair share of mead when passing the horn around after a hard day’s pillaging work.
Finding lagom can help us moderate our consumption and use natural resources wisely. Turning off the tap while brushing teeth, saying no to a plastic bag in the shop, carrying your own reusable coffee cup (should be easier now with the #lattelevy in the UK!), and sorting household rubbish.
A lagom wardrobe is perhaps not as minimalistic as Marie Kondo’s (at least mine isn’t), but it is far from being a sprawling mess threatening to overtake other valuable space in your home. Not an Instagram-perfect stripped-back single rack displaying cashmere yoga pants and furry Birkenstocks (so last-season hygge!) but rather a well-thought-through selection of clothes, shoes and accessories that can take you through the four seasons in style.
As we enter the year 2018, I wish that it will be a happy, harmonious and holistic one — that the small changes in our lifestyles end up making a lagom of difference.