Lapland may be most renowned for Santa Claus but design lovers should have long placed the location on a map thanks to the presence of the Icehotel. Sarah Bristow reports.
A winter-specific art project, the Icehotel rises up every December in a fresh new snow and ice-filled form to join the hotel’s preexisting (non ice) accommodation offerings. 2016’s rendition of the establishment is the 26th, and made its debut on 11 December.
As is tradition, this year’s ice segment was formed with frozen water from Torne River – a unique body of water that has never been used for industrial purposes and provides the venue with a type of ice that cannot be replicated by artificial offerings. Enough snow was used to create 19 individually themed art suites (and more than 50 bedrooms) that could form 700 million snowballs.
It’s a number that doesn’t faze the venue, whose whole existence is inspired by ice as an artistic tool. The hotel explains: “It’s about being inspired by ice as a material – our imagination is constantly challenged and so is our vision of art.”
The Icehotel’s continued innovation in design has awarded it again the title of World’s Leading Ice Hotel 2015 from the World Travel Awards – a title it has claimed since 2012.
For 2016’s design, 130 submissions entered into competition in April of this year. 19 of those designs were chosen to make up the individually themed (and hand-crafted) suites. A culmination of different artistic styles and individuals was chosen on purpose by the venue to celebrate the diversity of the design industry.
The Icehotel explains: “The artists come from all art disciplines and there are no entry requirements for applying to design one of our suites. There has always been a mix of people, some have been here before and some are new to the place, many have never even worked with snow or ice before. The mix of experience and inexperience allows for the development of fresh ideas. This is the key to our innovation and has been for almost 25 years.”
For the hotel’s Director of Design Jens Thoms Ivarsson the integration of diversity also brings the space to life: “In November, Jukkasjarvi becomes a melting pot of influences, cultures and languages. Everyone comes together to create art – it is a fantastic journey to be a part of.”
Icehotel 2016 is no exception – the 19 individually designed art suites have been created by a motley crew of international creatives. The complex in total features 55 rooms, a church (for special occasions) and a bar. This year’s accommodation options are decidedly opulent, with Swedish sculptor Anna Sofia Maag creating a three metre tall snow elephant sculpture that towers over a bed of ice. There’s also a theatrical disco integration in one room, as well as a Cesare’s Wake suite (crafted by Petros Dermatas and Ellie Souti) that references 1920s cult horror film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
The Icehotel is a design statement as well as a feat, and one that is only available to witness (in physical form at least) until the return of Spring.