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ÅF designs the lighting for the famous Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi

For the first time ever ÅF Lighting has been part of lighting the famous Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden - the world’s first hotel made entirely out of ice and snow.

More than 70 artists, designers and architects from 15 countries around the world, have created the amazing art for this year’s version of the Icehotel. It was the lighting designers task to make the sculptures stand out, while keeping the gentle feeling that is associated with the Icehotel.

Helena Aman Johansson is one of the lighting designers who got to take part in the 2-week creative process in collaboration with InWhite Ljusmiljö AB, something which usually takes months of preparation. She describes it as a fun but challenging experience. 

- Ice is not like any other material. I know how light reflects on a white wall but here, every piece of ice reflects light in a different way. A chunk of ice exposed to light can either brighten an entire room or block the light. So you really need to test light each piece of ice, she says.

As for the ice sculptures, there is an annual competition where artists from all over the world compete in creating the most amazing pieces of art. The winning entries get to be centre pieces of the hotel suites. It is the task of Helena and her fellow lighting designers to make the art “pop” while keeping the gentle feeling that is associated with the Icehotel.

 - In general, we don’t work with coloured light and we use very cool shades, a lot cooler than we are used to in other settings. The idea is to highlight the ice and snow and keep that fresh, crispy, clear look. Warmer lighting would make the ice look yellow and dirty. And since the ice reflects light so well, we use very small amounts to create effects that really show off the art.

Everything from design to installing the luminaries was taken care of by eleven lighting designers on site.

 - The biggest challenge was to create light without any fixtures showing. The light in Icehotel is supposed to be experienced and not seen.  The best feeling is when you don’t even realize that the room is lit.

They all brought their individual background and expertise into the project and collaborated in making the installations.

 - Working with these people from start to finish was the best part of the project for me. To work this intensely with creative people from all over the world, in this magical setting, is an experience that I will carry with me, says Helena.