JUKKASJÄRVI – The hotel, made only of snow and ice, is constructed anew from November each year and receives over 30,000 visitors until it starts to melt during spring. Designer Wouter Biegelaar told us about his suite, what inspired his design and the overall experience of working with a team of artists and technicians to bring the 22nd ICEHOTEL to life.
What is the function of your suite in the overall hotel?
Wouter Biegelaar: Next to the "normal" snow and ice rooms, there are 15 art suites and one luxury suite. Mine is one of these art suites. The ICEHOTEL invites artist from around the world to participate in the design and the construction of the suites. So if your design is chosen you can come over to build it yourself.
What inspired your design?
W.B.: I wanted to flip the preconception of a hotel room. You normally find hard and slick walls and soft furniture like a bed, sofa and chair. I made one massive (eight tons of ice) piece of furniture where you can sit, sleep and lounge. The walls look like they are upholstered. Like a chesterfield couch. An iceberg in a soft environment, emphasizing the characteristics of the two materials: snow being soft and easy to form and ice being hard and ‘sharp’.
Did the challenge reside in the design or the construction?
W.B.: Designing it was great fun. For once I didn't have to hold back by thinking of production techniques and cost. All had to be sculpted. Building it was my biggest challenge because I never worked with ice and snow before and I am in no way a sculptor. I made some moulds to make the walls and used common sense to build the iceberg. With the great help of the support team all worked out nice.
How would you describe the overall experience?
W.B.: It was great. One of the most memorable of my life. You really work as a team to build the whole hotel. Everyone steps up to help out. Being part of this team has been amazing. People from all around the world and different disciplines are involved so you get to learn a lot. This diversity also makes visiting the ICEHOTEL a great experience. You will find a very broad approach of Art and Design.
Photos courtesy of Wouter Biegelaar