Same Yet Different: What Europe Can Teach North America About The Hygge Lifestyle

Part 1:

Lighting Beyond Function

3 ways Europeans have enhanced the lighting experience

Chic interiors, cutting edge technology, and modular designs; Ambiente was all that and so much more! The world class trade show sported a whopping 4,400 exhibitors in 12 connected buildings that dwarf the metro convention centre in Toronto; it truly seemed larger than life. However, beyond all the glitz and glam, there was also a lot to learn from this spectacular event.  We all lead busy lives, so we decided to break this blog topic into 3 bite sized posts. Today’s post is going to focus on one of the most important elements of a hygge space, lighting, and the 3 ways Europeans have to enhanced the lighting experience.


For those of you who are diving head first into our blog, but aren’t quite sure what hygge is, we encourage you to read our first blog entry “What is Hygge?”. Pressed for time? Here is a quick recap! Hygge (pronounced “hoo-guh”) is comprised of two elements: the atmosphere and the experience. It’s simple in theory and yet so diverse in it’s application. At its essence, hygge is a feeling. Lighting is one of the key ways we can create the atmosphere and experience we desire. Now that you are all hygge experts, let’s jump right in!

Lighting from the Museum of Art & Design, Copenhagen.jpg

As you all know, in North America, when you buy or rent a property the space already comes with light fixtures; this is not the case in Europe. What is often an afterthought for us is a major priority for them. This is why they have perfected every aspect of the lighting experience, while keeping the process quite affordable. Let’s take a closer look.


bright ideas

In theme with creating energy-conscious products and materials, the majority of the light bulbs at Ambiente were LED bulbs designed to focus on both atmosphere and design. Candle, Edison, globe, tubular; every style of bulb you can imagine could be found at this trade show.

In addition to the beautiful glass work of the light bulbs, the filaments (which emit the light in a light bulb) have also become a focal point in the European lighting experience; truly no element was left behind. Filament design provides a unique way for you personalize your space at a low cost.  Spirals, abstract shapes, filaments in the shape of words and so much more were on display. Needless to say, we were awestruck by all the possibilities.

While it is not uncommon to find commercial spaces with specialty bulbs in North America, it is rare to find specialty bulbs in private spaces. We also noticed that, in cyclical fashion, smoked glass is making a comeback! Don’t be surprised if the majority of the decorative lighting in your local interior decor stores make a shift to smoked glass in the next 3 to 5 years. Much to our surprise, the lighting experience was not limited to the light bulbs, now you can get creative with the cables as well!

The lighting cable can create angular designs and set the ambience of the room.

The lighting cable can create angular designs and set the ambience of the room.

It’s a lighting wonderland! Flashy cloth cords, beautifully shaped LED bulbs, metallic pendants and yes, magnetic light fixtures!

It’s a lighting wonderland! Flashy cloth cords, beautifully shaped LED bulbs, metallic pendants and yes, magnetic light fixtures!


Twist, stripes and everything nice!

Customizable cables was another lighting trend to appear at Ambiente, allowing you to have full lighting customization. That’s right, now you can mix and match components until you create your desired effect! This presents a unique opportunity to really make every element shine, including the most neglected of elements such as the power cable.

We saw lighting cables in every colour, metallic finish, and fibre type under the sun and you can purchase them by the meter. Cables are available in cloth, twists, glitter, rayon and the list goes on. But here is where things get interesting; by treating the cable as a major design element this allows you to make the cable the focal point in a room, or help create a custom lighting solution that becomes a major design element in your space. Also, by using removable wall fixtures, you can now create your own light that can be plugged into a wall socket at a fraction of the price.

While the re-imagination of the bulb and cable for personal spaces is quite exciting, the fun doesn’t stop there.


“this isn’t even my final form” - Frieza


Modular lighting is similar to the customization mentioned earlier, but allows one to integrate it into their furniture in new and exciting ways. Depending on your needs, you can use a similar lamp shade on a table lamp, a hanging pendant, and with new designs being made, and in one company’s design, you can even attach lights to your couch! This idea of modular lighting has been done for years already, most notably by IKEA, where you can mix and match your lighting components to meet your lighting and design needs.

However, if you aren’t fond of the other non-lighting products IKEA produces then this feature would not be of much interest. Most of the companies exploring this avenue were much smaller than IKEA, which poses many limitations on how far you can push these modular features. That being said, it appears to be a concept in its infancy that deserved a mention. The ability to transform your lighting to meet your needs presents infinite possibilities for your cultivated space. Different lighting effects based on your mood or perhaps the season are now possible and the process has been made both easy and affordable

Same lights connected to different bases and furniture.

Same lights connected to different bases and furniture.

The same light shade can be connected to your ceiling, floor lamp stand, table stand and wall.

The same light shade can be connected to your ceiling, floor lamp stand, table stand and wall.


After you finish reading this blog post I want you to sit for a moment and close your eyes. I want you to image your favourite lamp. Maybe your favourite lamp is a little table lamp, with a black metal base and a teal pine cone shaped lamp shade, it has a black cable that reaches down to the floor. I want you to imagine your own of course, but this is my favourite lamp. Now imagine that lamp after you have repainted the room it sits in and it doesn’t match the way it once did. Instead of selling the lamp, you remove the top half and repurpose it elsewhere in your home - perhaps to your day bed in your office for your morning reading or perhaps attach it to a tall craned floor stand in room that doesn’t have a ceiling light fixture.You don’t have to go out and find a new lamp, going through endless premade, not-quite-right but ‘good enough’ lamps with that extra long power cord or different coloured base.

All the elements of the traditional light fixture are being expanded upon in very exciting ways. Now you can achieve the ambience and aesthetic you desire at a fraction of the cost and with staggering results. Hopefully the next time you go shopping for a light bulb or fixture you will be able to delve a little deeper into the world of decorative lighting. While the trends and products you have seen throughout this blog post may be hard to find in North America, we hope to address this challenge in the near future. So stay tuned and have a hygglig week!

Lindsay CatoLight