What happens when vibrant African prints meet clean Scandinavian lines? Danielle Bodjo was born in Ivory Coast, and moved to Denmark, aged four. She talks about her colourful twist on Scandinavian style.
Danielle Bodjo, Marketing Coordinator, BoConcept
Danielle Bodjo is chatting about Scandinavian furniture at the BoConcept showroom. I’m ogling the Schelly, a version of the classic Egg Chair in teal. ‘Design in Denmark is innovative and useful. And it’s rather beautiful,’ she adds. The chair is reasonably priced, and Bodjo notes my surprise. ‘Design is important for everyone. It’s not something reserved for the rich. Good design is part of our daily lives.’
I’m here for a photo shoot, not to buy a chair. But it’s no sales pitch. Here’s a woman who genuinely loves design.
In spite of the showroom’s clean aesthetic, there’s a warmth and coziness in how the furniture works together. Bodjo looks right at home. ‘It’s Hygge,’ she says, ‘a Danish word meaning cosy and comfortable.’ This is one of the magical things about Scandi style – it’s so simple, yet doesn’t feel boring or cold.
‘You might say I have Hygge in my personal style,’ she smiles. ‘I always dress comfortably and for the occasion. I’m not trying to show off. I just do my own thing.’ Her mix of African and European is inspiring. ‘I love wearing modern trousers with traditional tunics from Ivory Coast.’
She might do an African twist, but her attitude to dressing epitomizes the Scandinavian ethos. ‘Everything I wear has to be flexible, comfortable and practical. Our lifestyle in Denmark is really healthy – we cycle everywhere. We care a lot about exercise and the environment.’
She laments the lack of bike culture in London. ‘I notice women in the Tube wearing trainers and carrying heels in their bags. I never do that. I’ve tried wearing very high shoes, but if I can’t walk across the room to talk to people, I can’t be myself. Once I’m dressed, I don’t want to be thinking about my clothing – it shouldn’t interfere with what I’m doing. I need to be able to move.’
I ask if her style feels Danish or African. Her answer broadens into identity. ‘I had an assignment in 8th grade on “What it means to be Danish.” Being Danish isn’t about appearance. It’s who you are on the inside – it’s a feeling, a way of being; it’s things we care about and live daily. I’ve kept my African side. But in my dreams, when I speak, it’s in Danish. I think in Danish.’
Bodjo isn’t dressed in her Afro-Dane twist for our photo shoot. She’s more conservative today, since she’s working. But her style is as much about attitude as it is clothes. That’s something that unites all the Scandi women I’ve interviewed thus far. There’s a palpable ease in these women, a comfort in their clothes and, more importantly, in their own skin.
Maybe that’s real style Hygge.