Lagom is a uniquely Swedish philosophy and shouldn’t be confused as the latest lifestyle trend to follow, although style magazine articles are currently insisting so. The meaning behind this word you may have heard so much of in the last few months, whilst not specific to interiors, resonates explicitly with me and why I take the time and care to create furniture for life.
There’s no direct translation of Lagom, though it roughly means “Not too much, not too little – just right”.
When I was studying furniture design and making, I trained briefly at Stenebyskolan College in Sweden on a student exchange. Living there, I quickly learned how ingrained Lagom is in the Swedish psyche, how this word can be used in almost any context. You can work a Lagom amount of time. Your trouser fit can be Lagom, “How much milk do you want in your coffee?” “Lagom.”
It’s thought to derive from the Viking term Laget om – Around the team. Vikings shared a horn full of mead in a circle with each only taking their fair share, ensuring there was enough for everyone. It’s the embodiment of the Swedish cultural ideology of fairness, equality and sustainability, and may go a long way to explain why Sweden is often noted amongst the happiest of nations. We could learn a lot from this balanced lifestyle. A good place for inspiration is the beautifully designed, Bristol-based Lagom Magazine. It takes a look at a worldwide community of creatives, highlighting this thoughtful approach to life through design and travel. Always motivating.
Lagom in the home is not necessarily about minimalism – clutter is subjective after all – it just means having the right pieces in place to ensure the right balance for your space. The Lagom way doesn’t include embellishments or over-the-top designs, it allows the beauty of natural materials and craftsmanship to shine, which all makes sense when thinking about the Scandi design ethos – functional, stylish, simple and sustainable.
A room needs flow. Can you move around the furniture without having to squeeze past a coffee table that’s too large and not well considered? Do you have just the right surface to place your coffee cup when reading in your favourite spot? Is that space lit well enough? Can your furniture serve more than one purpose? And quite importantly, will it serve you well for years to come? Buying new pieces of furniture every few years is in no way a sustainable way to furnish your home. A flat-pack coffee table can’t compete sustainably with hand crafted furniture that you can pass on to your kids. Buy once, but buy well.
These are things that I consider when designing furniture and accessories. Rather than work to current trends or use cheap materials, I want to create modern classics that will stand the test of time. If you’re going to look at it forever, then you truly have to love that piece of furniture, and it has to fit your needs.
Looking at my furniture designs I see a good balance of style and function. I feel my Farleigh Magazine Holder offers that balance between starkness and clutter, creating a beautiful space to keep your current reading materials orderly. The Iford Library Step Chair, as a practical piece of furniture, hits the mark in many ways. Perhaps you’ll use it every day as a step to reach the high shelves of a kitchen cupboard or book case, or maybe use it to display books or plants until needed as a spare seat at the table.
There’s a purity to the form in my work, avoiding unnecessary embellishments, I use solid and sustainable materials to create heirloom furniture – I guess I’ve always been Lagom.