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Dutch designers at the ICEHOTEL

In a frozen, Arctic landscape with a never-rising sun, against a background sky glittered with northern lights, Dutch designers returned again this season to help shape the 2008/9 ICEHOTEL in Sweden. 

By Jeanne Tan / 26-02-2009

Dutch designers have returned once again to help create the ICEHOTEL in Sweden.

Each year, international artists and designers are invited to design hotel suites and installations at the hotel located 200km north of the Arctic Circle in Jukkasjärvi. Built from snow and ice, The ICEHOTEL exists only temporarily each winter from December until March, depending on the weather. In the spring, the frozen water palace melts back into the River Torne from which the building 'materials' originated.  

The Ice Church was built again by a Dutch team, this time consisting of Marjolein Vonk, Cindy Berg, Marinus Vroom, Jan Willem van der Schoot and Maarten Meijer. The backgrounds of the team vary from design, styling, theatre, set design to boat building. Vonk and Berg are both veterans to the polar project, having collaborated on several Ice suites in the past and the last two churches. If you've ever visited an ICEBAR somewhere in the world, you'll have worn the guest outfits designed by Marjolein Vonk.

Conceptually, this year's Ice Church, called 'Northern Church' explores mystery and the imagination, referencing elements from Lapland. Large arching overhead structures dominate the space, bringing to mind reindeer antlers or a forest canopy perhaps. The structures seemingly multiply as their shadows are cast on the ceiling. Walking through the arched space, the cluster (or herd) of trunks opens and stretches into the seating area and altar with a font for baptisms. The benches are made from blocks of ice lined with reindeer fur which is used elsewhere throughout the hotel as a sort of natural 'upholstery' over the ice for seating and beds. The design plays with the blurring of inside and outside. "First walking through the antlers/trees, you will enter an open space like in the woods. We created an outside area inside, but since it is all made of snow and ice, it feels like it's outside again", Vonk explains. The ground of compacted snow from the outside continues in, helping blur this boundary. Every year, over 150 brave couples opt to exchange their vows in the breathtakingly surreal frozen church.

Charlotte Koster and Michiel van der Boom designed one of the ICEHOTEL rooms, the 'Peeled' suite where strips of wall peel back to reveal a glimpse of the glowing ice that lays behind.

Photography: Ben Nilsson/Big Ben Productions

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