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Lagom: The Swedish Philosophy of Balance

On a recent trip to Sweden, I learned quite a bit about the culture and history. Being that my great-grandparents immigrated from there, I was very interested in the country and their customs.

Beyond being known for moose everywhere and having some of the happiest people in the world, though a little reserved, their efficiency and design are exceptional. Everything seems to be as is should. The term they have for this idea is “Lagom”.

Lagom: Not too little. Not too much. Just Right.

The term comes from the time of the vikings, when they gathered around around the fire after a long day’s work and passed around horns filled with mead. Everyone was expected to drink just their fair share so there was enough for everyone to have some. This term “lagot om” (sitting around the team) has been shortened to lagom over the years. The meaning for the word changes based on the context. It could mean “appropriate” in social settings, “moderation” in food, “less is more” in interior decor, “mindfulness” in wellbeing, “sustainability” in lifestyle choices and “logic” in business dealings. All these carry a connotation of “optimal” decision-making.

Swedish design could be considered minimalist, but it doesn’t feel as if anything is lacking, it works as it should. The systems make sense and everything seems to flow just right. Efficiency is not overlooked.

When your company puts out a new product or service, is it well thought out and designed or is it just slapped together? Thoughtful design can go a long way. Customers will feel the difference and it will set you apart from others. Instead of making more average products, focus on creating a few exceptional products. Do what seems appropriate and logical.

Chandler Hagglund