The artist duo Kauppi & Kauppi talks ice and design – from New York to Jukkasjärvi

Nina and Johan Kauppi are the artist couple behind the design studio Kauppi & Kauppi. Together they have won multiple awards and their resumes are proof of two amazing design careers. Nina, who comes from Malmö in southern Sweden, is a professional jewelry designer and has worked with international companies like Tomas Sabo and Tiffany & Co, while Johan who is born in a quiet village on the Arctic Circle, is an industrial designer and has created the acclaimed outdoor gym Kebne, amongst others. They are recurring artists at ICEHOTEL and in the latest design, Monstera, the guests could sleep in their private greenhouse, a frozen winter garden, surrounded by Monstera-shaped leaves in different forms and sizes. Sweet dreams are made of leaves.

It has been a few months since you were in Jukkasjärvi and built Monstera – what thoughts do you have now, thinking back on the design- and building process?

Warm memories from an icy environment! The second the suite was done, you started longing for the next. It is addictive! You can tell that ICEHOTEL has gathered experiences for almost 30 years; everything is synchronized and well organized.

What does your design process look like? What inspires you?

Our work and design process looks different depending on the task, but we always ask one important question: What can this design/product contribute to the world? The inspiration comes from the contrast between nature and the urban, north and south, in the calming tranquility and the dynamic stream.

What’s the biggest challenge when working with ice? And what’s the most fun part about ice?

It being cold is obvious, but you really have to think it through and learn tricks how to handle the weight and the volumes you use to create. Days with temperatures under -25°C can be a challenge, then you need to plan your work to save the precision work and instead work with something more physical to keep the warmth. The most amazing thing about the ice is the feeling of mindfulness and presence that arise. The material is incredibly beautiful and fascinating in itself. You get a strong sensation of “here and now”.

What’s your best memory from the two-week building period at ICEHOTEL?

It’s almost impossible to choose a separate memory since the entire stay is such an amazing rush of creativity, meetings with people, nature, northern lights and physical challenges. Perhaps that’s the memory – the fantastic experience as a whole.

Monstera is about to return to Torne River – how does it feel?

We love the idea that we will be fishing outside ICEHOTEL when the suite in the shape of Torne River water flows past Johan’s home village, 3 hours south of Jukkasjärvi. It’s like poetry that makes our hearts melt.

You have designed suites at ICEHOTEL for several years – will you apply this winter again?

We love Icehotel! We will be spending the spring in New York where Johan’s furniture, Wakufuru, will be displayed at Cooper Hewitt Smitsonian Design Museum. If time allows, we will of course be applying to ICEHOTEL 29.

You have won awards for the outdoor gym Kebne and your furniture design at German Design Award Ceremony 2018 – how does it feel to be internationally recognized?

We are deeply honored and happy for the international recognition that German Design Council gave us by awarding our design with German Design Award. It is a great feeling when the thing you’ve been working with creates interest and relevancy on an international level. For our partners, it is both valuable and exciting that the products are known globally.

What’s your best advice for everyone who is applying as an artist for next winter?

There is no experience or challenge compared to this. You have to experience it! Just go for it and have fun!


apply as an artist here