Danish Hygge Is So Final 12 months. Say Whats up to Swedish Mys.
Denmark introduced the world to hygge, the national pursuit of all things cozy and pleasant. Hygge (pronounced HOO-gah) is a survival mechanism for the Danes during the winter months and often involves an abundance of candles, crackling fireplaces, soothing foods and the company of close friends.
In Sweden, where the winters are even longer, darker and more desolate, the concept is called mys (pronounced mees) – or the adjective mysigt. And although the terms are very similar, the Swedish Mys refers more clearly to an extremely cozy atmosphere.
“Hygge is a lot wider than mine,” said Malin Lindqvist, a Swedish fabric designer who moved to Denmark seven and a half years ago. The essence of mys is the feeling of warmth, like being wrapped in a woolen blanket amidst burning candles, while drinking a steaming cup of tea with a purring cat on your lap.
The best city to stock up on mys-making supplies is Stockholm. The highest concentration of small, cozy, independent shops and boutiques can be found in the streets near Nytorget, a square on the southern island of Sodermalm, far from the city’s bustling central shopping area.
A good place to start is Tambur, a boutique full of things that make every home more homely. In the two-room store, the front space is designed like a kitchen and dining area, with woven baskets lined up from the ceiling above a rustic wooden table with ceramic bowls and plates perfect for serving hearty pasta dishes. The back room is filled with piles of fluffy linen pillows, a plush beige couch, subdued lighting, and plaid orange-gray blankets made of sheep’s wool on the Swedish island of Gotland. It has the feel of a very posh living room.
“I want people to come to my house,” said the owner, Anders Widegren, while he was sitting in the back room. Among the many desirable items, two particularly important picks were a Swedish brand Klong copper oil lamp ($ 2,749 Swedish kronor, about $ 324) and a special cast-iron pan for making flat-top-sized Swedish pancakes the size of a saucer to serve as a cold dinner in short stacks with butter and jam (529 crowns).
On one corner, three blocks away, Esterior is an interior design studio and store with a more eclectic, playful style. The spacious shop is filled with a mix of vintage furniture and mid-century lighting, fluffy Moroccan rugs, and striped velvet pillows for snuggling up on a couch. For low-fi, candlelit entertainment on a wintry evening, grab an elegant game of chess or a classic backgammon board (450 crowns each).
Younger buyers can find mine in their size at Beton, a quiet children’s shop a block and a half away. Here you can stock up on cord hoods (170 crowns) and knee socks (65 crowns) in neutral earth tones. Instead of bright colors and plastic toys, the shelves are filled with wooden rattles, woolen overalls, and soft leggings in muted colors from small, hard-to-find brands.
“It’s important to be unique in Stockholm,” said owner Petra Gardefjord, who made a sale of hand-sewn leather moccasins she taught herself for her own children.
Today the store, which moved to a larger location on the same block in October, stocks a variety of tiny moccasins (now made in Estonia; 460 crowns per pair) as well as woven baby baskets, picture books, pacifiers and a unisex clothing line called Façade, founded by Ms. Gardefjord and Ulrika Nihlén.
Right next to concrete, the Parlans Konfektyr pastry shop feels like a tiny tea room from the 1950s with its vintage love seat, teak side tables and dark wood-paneled walls. Watch workers, often dressed in retro outfits, make candy in the adjoining workshop. Then fill yourself up with candy, especially butterscotch in seasonal flavors like saffron, cardamom, and cinnamon apple (120 crowns for 15).
A short walk away, an inconspicuous door leads into the humble showroom of Carina Seth Andersson, one of Sweden’s leading designers of ceramic and glass objects. Here you can grab hand-thrown teapots and rare exhibits (most between 500 and 4,000 crowns). In addition to the popular Urna, Ming and Pallo vases from Ms. Andersson in sizes small to extra large, you may also find collectibles from other well-known Swedish designers such as Signe Persson-Melins glass teapot with cork handle.
Around the corner there is another exhibition room, Manos, which also serves as the workshop of the ceramist Karin Eriksson. Here you will find ceramic oil burners and essential oils, porcelain candle holders for tealights, handmade bowls and glazed mugs for coffee or tea (from approx. 250 crowns).
But if you are buying one thing at home to add Mys Factor, it has to be a candle. Ask the Swedes what they associate with me and the first thing that comes up is candlelight. When the daylight hours dwindle, it becomes necessary to find new sources of heat and light. And of course, simple votives from Ikea will work just fine. However, there is a case where hand-dipped candles from Sthlm Ljusstoperi, in which slender tapers are available in various colors, shapes and sizes (pack of four from 95 crowns), can be used.
On the edge of the neighborhood, just a short walk east, in the large workshop is an on-site shop filled with boxes of brightly colored candles – light pink, lilac, rich red, and green. The shop also stocks hand-dipped three-armed candles, a typically Swedish style often used on special occasions and during Advent.
Those looking for a place to rest – and a final dose of Mys – should make a final stop at Vina, a wine bar one block from Nytorget with one of the coziest atmospheres in the neighborhood.
Step into the cozy room from the cold, where the tables are covered with flickering candles and the mismatched vintage decor invites you to linger over a glass or two of wine, perhaps a small plate of sausage and cheese, or a warming bowl of saffron scented Fish stew. It may be dark and drizzling outside or clear and cold, but inside it is nothing but mine.