Interview with our Creative Director Luca Roncoroni
Creative Director Luca Roncoroni is an ultra marathon running architect, originally from Italy but has adopted Norway as his second home country. In 2019, he celebrates 20 years as an ice- and snow artist. When he’s not busy with design projects, you’ll find him and his best friend, the dog Nero in the nearest forest or mountain area.
the role as creative director
Hi Luca, you’re joining us as the new Creative Director for Icehotel Group. Tell us about what that means?
My role is about providing strategic direction for the art that we feature in Icehotel and Icehotel 365, but also for development projects and external projects elsewhere in the world through Icehotel Creative Experience. That means I will continue to participate in the suite jury and lead the artists through their projects of making the ephemeral art installations at Icehotel, but will also work on other projects where I’m needed.
Creativity is one of Icehotel’s core values, and art & design one of the main focuses of the business model, so the role as Creative Director is much wider than the actual hotel itself.
And what does it mean to you?
Yngve Bergqvist, Åke Larsson and Arne Bergh had a crazy vision 30 years ago, which resulted in the invention of the world’s first hotel and art exhibition made of ice and snow. They created a team and the spirit to test the limits of what is possible to do with snow and ice, and they never stopped experimenting since.
The company’s philosophy about art and sustainability is unique and the people working for ICEHOTEL are among the most experienced in the world. I'm humbled, grateful and I’m looking forward to be working with the team to continue these traditions, but also to explore new possibilities, so that we can reach an even wider audience and inspire more people worldwide.
Tell us about your professional background?
I studied architecture, and hold a Master Degree in Architecture from the Politecnico di Milano (Italy). I also have a Master’s Degree in Interior and Furniture Design from the Oslo National Academy of the Arts (Norway).
After graduation, I worked two years in an architect office in Oslo, before I started my own company in 2002. In the past 17 years I’ve worked with many different projects in the field of architecture and design, specializing in museum design and experiential design. I have experience with projects in Norway, Sweden, Finland, Italy, France, Canada, China, Russia, South Korea and Germany.
A particular interest of mine resides in temporary and ephemeral projects, and I am intrigued by the power of “perception and memory”; not knowing how (or when) the project will change and ultimately disappear stimulates new sides of the experience, leaving stronger and more personal memories in each user.
*Drumroll* Cue: ICEHOTEL?
Exactly! In 1999 I had my first experience working with snow in Finse (Norway), during a workshop organized by the Bergen Academy of Art and Design. It was a true revelation; I went back in 2000 and I did several snow projects in the following years.
In late spring 2001 I decided to take the “next step” and I wrote an e-mail to ICEHOTEL, asking if I could come to Jukkasjärvi and work as an apprentice for the upcoming building season. Months went by without any response and I had almost given up, but then I received a mail from Arne (Bergh, Creative Director at the time)… I think it was September, and Arne wrote something like “Hi Luca, you can come and work with us from mid- October?”.
That was great news, but I was working in an architect office in Oslo at the time, and I had a three months notice to quit the job, so the timing was not the best. Somehow I managed to convince my boss because I got permitted two months’ leave and suddenly I was on my way to Jukkasjärvi!
After that winter I was sold, and back at the office in Oslo I was just waiting for the following winter…
In summer 2002 I quit my job and went back to Jukkasjärvi. Once again, I worked in the building team, but I also made my first project as an artist; the ice church with Mark Szulgit.
Since then I've come back several times. I also took some years “off” to try different ice and snow projects, and I was lucky enough to work in Finland, Norway, China and Canada. But the real ICEHOTEL in Jukkasjärvi has always been the ultimate goal, and I came back any time I had the chance.
2019 will be a special year for me, celebrating my 20th anniversary working with ice and snow, and at the same time being part of the Icehotel's 30th anniversary. I hope I can contribute to the amazing storytelling that the Icehotel is famous for!
You are Italian, but live in Norway. How did that happen?
I was born in Como (Italy) and grew up with my brother Mattia, in the house that my father and my mother built themselves. My childhood was very active: playing at my grandparents' farm, being a boy scout and practicing several sports (most of all tennis and downhill ski). The first time my parents took me to the Alps I was only two months old and that experience marked me as a human being: I love mountains and I love nature!
Growing up I always liked to build things, and after secondary school I went to art school, and later on to Architecture University in Milan (Italy). This gave me the opportunity to go to Norway as an exchange student in 1995, and the experience opened up a new world for me: I learned English (and later Norwegian), I discovered snow and ice as building materials, I met my partner Tina and found my second home-country. I permanently moved to Norway in 2001, first in Oslo and later in Drøbak, where I now live with Tina and our dog Nero, an Alaskan Malamute.