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How can hygge be part of our resistance?

We call Practice Space a research studio because we are always asking questions.  This winter, our research question is, "How can hygge be part of our resistance?"  It guides our retail collection and the creative prompts we share when you visit, and the plans we make with our visiting artists - the first of whom will be coming soon!

Hygge is a Danish term roughly translated as "coziness" and roughly pronounced "HOO-guh".  It is defined by the Oxford Living Dictionary as “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.”  While it has gained popularity outside Denmark recently for its Instagram-friendly aesthetics of twinkling candles, warm woolen blankets and mugs of tea (or beer), hygge has at its heart the idea that domestic coziness, particularly in the winter, should be a collective experience, not an isolating one.  We have been inspired by the idea for years, as a challenge to the solitary “hibernation”  and "hunkering down" that we often succumb to in the New England winter. 

Critics have usefully pointed towards the fact that this idea has also at its heart both Denmark's racial homogeneity and its robust social safety net - if hygge is for intimacy, doesn't it reinforce a culture that rejects outsiders?  And if hygge is for leisure, how can it be anything other than a mark of privilege in America?  Further, in a time of state-sanctioned nationalism, nativism, and protectionism (and worse), there might be real dangers in the gentle embrace of an aesthetic trend that insists on stifling difficult conversation and encourages us instead to just put on our slippers and cozy up to the fire.  Nostalgia can be worryingly similar to amnesia, and American fascination with Scandinavian culture has historically sometimes served a whitewashing function.

This is the value of cultural critique, and why we think being a research studio and a retail shop makes sense.  When we sell you a woolen blanket, we want to challenge you to think of hygge not as an escape.   We are asking ourselves, what if winter were a time for joy and solidarity?  Can coziness help us cultivate community and build the networks to sustain us in action?

We have felt joy and solidarity this past week, as we helped you all prepare for the Women's March for America.  You showed up with friends, babies, partners and family members, in the evening and during the day, made signs and drank tea and ate cookies and bought gifts for your best friends and your hosts in Washington DC.  It’s not enough to curl up under a blanket alone - perhaps hygge also provides us with a useful metaphor for the warmth we need to give to each other in dark times.

With this reflection in mind, we are launching our membership program.  Come join our community. 
Shop hours:

Monday closed
Tuesday - Friday 4-7pm
Saturday 11-7pm / Sunday 11-4pm

or by appointment (hello@practice-space.com)
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