When Alexandra Gove—the founder of Colorado-based Hygge Life and a spirited collector of beautiful moments and things—followed her boyfriend to Amsterdam, the Colorado native fell in love with a Northern European way of life that has no name in the English language. A conversation about slowing down and being hygge in the present.
A Conversation with Alexandra Gove
A M How did you end up in Amsterdam?
A G My boyfriend, Koen, is Dutch. We skied our way to love in Vail, Colorado, a few winters ago and moved to Amsterdam together a year later.
A M You didn’t stay put there for very long . . .
AG No. That following summer, we embarked on a life-changing adventure. We bought a 1971 Opel Blitz camper, painted it blue, hitched up our bicycles, and toured Europe, selling poffertjes (mini Dutch pancakes) and collecting European vintage treasures. We stamped “Hygge Life” on the camper and called it the “Hygge Bus.”
A M What’s hygge?
AG The Danish word hygge (pronounced “hoo-ga”) has no direct translation in English. “Cozy” may come close. Hygge is the euphoric feeling when you are completely content in the present moment. Loved ones, good food, and drinks are likely contributors, as are candlelight and conversation. It’s the art of creating special moments out of daily routines and rituals, whether it’s lighting a candle over breakfast, buying fresh flowers weekly, posting handwritten invitations for your backyard summer party, or breaking out the good wine when your friends are over for dinner. It’s owning things you truly love and choosing authenticity over practicality. Hygge is about realizing the opportunity we all have to make the ordinary aspects of our lives extraordinary; to add that extra sparkle to moments, big or small.
“Hygge is the euphoric feeling when you are completely content in the present moment.”
A M At the time, you lived in Amsterdam, yet you chose a Danish name for your blog and shop . . .
A G The Dutch call this feeling “gezellig,” and the Germans “gemütlich,” but I adopted the Danish version to represent the bus tour, lifestyle, and collection of vintage household objects and wares. Not only because “hygge” is easier to pronounce but because Danish design is simple, inspiring, timeless, and just so hygge.
A M Where did you come by your unique antler collection?
A G Driving the Hygge Bus up and down the windy roads in the Alps across France, Switzerland, and Germany, we discovered these mounted roe deer antlers among other alpine artifacts. The roe deer is typical for Europe, and the small and delicate antlers are rare in the United States, so I felt the urge for sharing my assortment with the people at home. We began buying them at flea markets, antique barns, and auctions along the way until we had a beautifully unique collection.
A M What have you been up to since the Hygge Bus tour?
A G Hygge Life has evolved into an online shop of new and vintage items from all over Europe that help create hygge spaces and moments. After lovely shared meals at our table, an evening filled with smiles, conversation, and warmth, we now have a word to describe the experience . . . hygge. △