Trend Watch: Lagom

Gorpcore

I’m off on a bit of tangent to start. In addition to Lagom, another new trend crossed my desk this week that made me laugh. It also made me feel a little nostalgic, and I thought some of you might have the same reaction and enjoy reading about it.

When you’ve aligned yourself professionally with a Millenial as I have, and yet you  happen to be Gen-X (me again), you’re somewhat prepared for the texts, direct messages, and inbox influx of articles spotlighting the latest trends in fashion and home. You realize it’s a not-so-subtle reminder that you need to keep with the program…or else.  And believe me, it’s all welcome intel. Except when it makes you feel like maybe you’re not quite the spring chicken you used to be. 

So this week when I opened an article from Refinery29 listing what I needed to buy to achieve the new “Gorpcore” look, I nearly fell off my rocker. The article talks about the the latest ‘performance wear’ craze that’s attracting both outdoorsy folks and city-dwellers alike: Patagonia half-zips, Arizona Birkenstocks, Tevas, hiking boots, cut-off jean shorts, and extra-thin sunglasses:

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Pic via Patagonia
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Pic via REI
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Pic via Birkenstock
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Pic via American Eagle
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Pic via Timberland

Look familiar? I had to re-read the first paragraph of the article a few times. This is a new trend? Haven’t we always been wearing Patagonias? And wasn’t it not that long ago that we were doing the whole cut-off jean short/Birkenstock thing? How is this not old news?

Oh wait, that’s right, I’m the one getting old, and it’s not 1993 anymore. I thought about what my 12-year-old is wearing this spring, circa 2018. She’d requested several pairs of cut-off jean shorts, brand-new, yet perfectly old and ratty looking. Then there’s the t-shirts she bought. Whenever I see them, I feel an odd sense of longing to wear them myself: Some are tie-dyed, others reminiscent of those old touristy ones I’d picked up on long-ago family vacations. And you’ll love this: What does she reach for first when she gets cold? My vintage 1993 Patagonia. Which, by the way, I still love. If only I aged as well as that thing– I swear it is completely indestructible.

I realize now, that this whole “gorpcore” thing is new to a large portion of the population–my own 12-year-old included. It’s just not new to me, because I lived it the first time around. So what’s the lesson in all this? I’m not sure there is one, except maybe to never throw out your Patagonias. Oh, but I do have an important word of advice for those Millenials and Gen Z’s out there: When we dressed this way back in the early ’90s it was just called ‘crunchy’ or ‘granola’, and that sounded a heck of a lot better than the current term ‘gorpcore’. IMHO.

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That’s me above, circa 1993, in my favorite Patagonia, cut-off jean shorts, and Arizona Birkenstocks

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And here’s Kate, May 2018, again in my 1993 Patagonia (doesn’t it look brand new–how does it do that!?!?) and her own new/old-looking jean shorts

And there you have it, what’s old is amazingly new again! As for me? Maybe I’ll consider jumping on the ‘Gorpcore’ bandwagon once I find myself the ultimate pair of vintage OP corduroy shorts:

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Pic via www.lyst.com

Lagom

And now, for the true focus of this post: Another supposedly huge trend that really isn’t anything new or groundbreaking, but that does offer some sound design ideas worth revisiting. After bringing us the decidedly off-putting ritual of ‘Death Cleansing,’ the Swedes are at it again. But thankfully they’re now offering up something a bit more palatable for us to chew on, something I might even be able to get behind and like: Lagom.

Not only is Lagom much easier to pronounce than some of our other recent design-trend imports–Feng-Shui, Hygge, Ikigai and Wabi Sabi to name a few. But it’s also a much more up-beat way of living than the more extreme trends out there, like that wonderful Death Cleanse I mentioned, or Marie Kondo’s fanatic approach to orderly living. Those trends just straight out give me anxiety. I know that my system of cleaning house and making things orderly would not fly with Marie Kondo. She would not be pleased to see me stuffing all my junk in the closet and basement before proclaiming the house clean. I feel guilty just imagining her standing there shaking her head, wagging a disappointed finger at me, saying “tsk, tsk.”

Enter Lagom (pronounced ‘la-gum’). Although it can’t be translated exactly, Lagom basically means ‘not-too-much, not-to-little–just right.’ It’s all about finding balance and moderation in life: in the way you eat,  work, and in the way you live in your home. Yes, you do need to declutter, and stuffing junk in the closet doesn’t really count towards that, but you also want your home to be warm, welcoming and cozy. You want it to embody your experiences and personality.

The underlying premise of Lagom is to think carefully about how you use your surroundings and to design your space with that use in mind. Because when everything in your home has its place, and what’s there is there for a reason, you feel calmer and more centered. And that means you’re ultimately happier. Who wouldn’t want that?

And so, I’ll take Lagom–in moderation of course! Here’s my way to work it (moderately) into your home.

Curated, not Cluttered

Yes, Lagom does emphasize practicality, and I think having an extensive collection of Lladró figurines in your curio cabinet might be frowned upon. But this practicality doesn’t mean you have to throw all your keepsakes away.  Focus on displaying only a few special items at a time. Let the eye rest and appreciate the beauty and meaning of each item. If you have lots of mementos or collections, consider rotating through them exhibit-style (I promise, I won’t tell anyone you’ve stashed the rest in the attic until it’s their turn to be displayed).

What NOT to do:

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Lladró Collection via Pinterest

A Better Approach:

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Pic via Amber Interiors

In the above photo from Amber Interiors, notice there’s actually quite a bit of artwork and other items displayed on the shelves. But by balancing the height, shape, color and texture of the items, designer Amber Lewis creates a space that prompts your eye to move clockwise from top left all the way around the composition.  Prominent pieces alternated with purposeful blank space provide rest stops along the way, allowing your gaze to linger and relax.

A Nod to Nature: Quiet, Earthy Colors, Native Plants and Natural Texture

Swedish homes tend to pull muted colors from nature into their design: Pale grays, soft whites, airy blues, and organic browns take center stage. Lagom also promotes the idea that  your home should reflect its surrounding natural environment. Bring in seasonal flowers or budding branches you might collect nearby instead of ornate, professionally designed bouquets. If you live by the sea or a lake, incorporate those blues and grays you love so much into your color scheme.

Kitchen
My kitchen (Lagom uncluttered for the photo op!)

When renovating our kitchen, I wanted to pull in some of the colors and textures of the coast near where we live. I chose Perla Venata quartzite for the countertops for its warm yet airy colors. The soft swirls and striations remind me of the clean stretch of sandy beach nearby. Sometimes people confuse quartz with quartzite. Quartzite is a naturally occurring stone. Certain types, like this Perla Venata, have the durability of granite with the look of marble.

The Right Light

If you know me well, you know I have a major light-dimming fixation. I might be in full-on conversation with you, when all of the sudden I turn away and dim a lamp. It’s like a twitch I have when the lighting is too harsh. I loathe canned, recess LED lighting (we have it in our house, but I try not to use it). That’s a whole other blog post for another time.

But my lighting fixation means I’m completely onboard with the Lagom rules for lighting your home:

  • Use as much natural light as possible in your home (no heavy drapes!).
  • Organize lighting so that it’s there when you’re looking for it (well-placed lamps).
  • And here’s my own Lagom interpretation takeaway–put dimmers on more than just the wall switches. Put them on anything and everything that has a bulb.
Light on Dresser
Photo by me (and painting of me by my mom)

I don’t have a smart house yet where I can dim all my lamps from my iphone or whatever. So I do it the old-fashioned way: tabletop dimmers. Yes, they’re clunky and outdated, but if you’re in the same boat as I am, use them. You can get them at Home Depot or online (you can also have all your lamps rewired to have dimmers right on them, but I just haven’t gotten around to that–and probably never will).

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Pic via Amazon

Now you’ll be dimming your lamps the ‘ole Lagom way: ‘not-too-much, not-too-little–but just right.’ Perfect!

And please, whatever you do, promise me you won’t use CFL lightbulbs in your lamps. Don’t worry, I’ll do a whole post on all the best types of bulbs (as though you’re interested!), but for now, just DON’T use anything that looks like this:

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Photo via Home Depot

Now there’s certainly more to living the Lagom way, but this is a start. Most likely you’re already doing much of it in your home as it is, but sometimes it’s nice to have some guidelines to use when you’re rethinking a space or just trying to get organized. Just don’t get stressed about it–that would be very ‘un-lagom-like.’ Remember: Everything in moderation.

Thanks for stopping by! Would love to hear your thoughts.

–Jen

Would love to hear your thoughts!