The Origins of Cottagecore Design

This is a writing sample from Scripted writer Hannah Kincannon

Imagine yourself walking along a well-worn path between lush greenery and well-tended garden beds. There are no sounds of traffic disturbing your quiet, nor the noise of construction or the harsh glare of digital billboards breaking up the landscape. The path leads you to a quaint cottage, out of which the smells of fresh-baked bread and freshly-brewed coffee waft towards you. There are simple patterned linens hanging on the wash line, and your favorite book sits waiting for you by the fireplace. If this bucolic scene feels warm and welcoming to you, then you are likely one of the many who find comfort in imagining a simpler life than the often harsh and hectic ones that many of us lead. It is this desire that led to the phenomenon known as cottagecore.

Cottagecore is an aesthetic movement centered on the romanticization of rustic country life.³ It places an emphasis on domesticity, nature, and the tactile and sensual pleasures of working with one's hands. Natural materials such as wood, stone, and organic linens take the forefront of the aesthetic, as well as well-worn and well made items that one might have found in their great-grandparent's homes. The cottagecore trend is meant to bring us back to simpler times, though it has perhaps ironically become so trendy that the aesthetic of dried flowers, delicate lace and enameled kitchenware has cropped up everywhere from interior design blogs to the aisles of department stores.

One thing that makes cottagecore stand out from traditional design trends is that it did not start in the places one might expect. It did not catch fire from the carefully curated living room of a celebrity, nor from the glossy pages of an interior design magazine. The origins of cottagecore go back to the popular online blogging platform Tumblr, where users began uploading snapshots of idyllic life, handicrafts, and quiet afternoons in 2018.² It has since moved across other platforms and forms of visual media, but the heart of cottagecore content remains online.

Many of the users of these online platforms consider the aesthetic to be subversive, as it offers a warm and welcoming alternative to the noise and complicated issues that follow us throughout modern-day life, and while it's nostalgic feel may remind many people of the past, the young and often female and minority proponents of the movement tend to use the movement to express progressive sentiments, such as a rejection of modern capitalism and a welcoming inclusivity extended towards all types of people.⁴

While the cottagecore design aesthetic came about fairly recently, the impetus behind the movement shares much in common with the Danish philosophy of hygge (pronounced hue-gah), which has been a part of Danish culture since the late 1800's.¹ Denmark experiences winters that are famously dark, cold and miserable, and yet the country often appears at the top of the list when talking about countries where the standard of living and overall happiness are highest. This is due in part to the concept of hygge, which is derived from a Norwegian word for 'well-being'.¹

Hygge encompasses a feeling of cozy contentment and well-being achieved through slowing down, and enjoying the simpler things in life, such as lighting a few candles, curling up in a comfortable chair, and enjoying a hot cup of coffee with a good book, instead of spending time wrapped up in things like social media, or worrying about the workday. It celebrates seemingly simple tasks such as baking, knitting, or sitting around a table with friends.

While the core principles of hygge share much in common with cottagecore, hygge does not place an emphasis on design, aesthetics, or material goods, focusing instead on the feelings of everyday happiness that can be achieved by enjoying simplicity. So, while we can achieve the feeling of hygge without the cottagecore aesthetic, cottagecore cannot exist without first slowing down and appreciating the space we find ourselves in everyday, and relishing in the small things that bring us comfort.

Sources:

¹ https://www.countryliving.com/life/a41187/what-is-hygge-things-to-know-about-the-danish-lifestyle-trend/

² https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/cottagecore

³ https://www.thespruce.com/cottagecore-design-style-5095952

https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/what-exactly-is-cottagecore

Written by:

Hannah Kincannon
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I am a freelance writer, content creator, and digital illustrator. I have over a decade of experience in writing, both professionally and for various personal projects. I have written for published online articles, email marketing, and small business advertising. I have also written prose and short fiction for personal and collaborative projects. I currently live and work in Orlando, Florida.
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