f it is really cold when I am at work – below minus 30 degrees Celsius – I’m very conscious about protecting my extremities,” says Luca Roncoroni, the creative director of Sweden’s famed Icehotel.
The 47-year-old, who is one of the world’s top ice sculptors, has taken a quick break from chipping and chiselling away at this year’s designs to talk to me about what life is like behind the scenes from his base in the icy wilds of Jukkasjärvi.
“My work outfit includes two pairs of woollen socks, winter boots with thick soles, wool underwear, mitts and a buff that covers my neck and the tip of my nose. To top things off, a good hat to stop my body heat escaping.”
Roncoroni, from Lake Como in Italy, stumbled into the world of ice purely by accident having originally trained as an architect. But his career path took a twist in 1995 when he went to Oslo as an exchange student and decided to stay on after falling in love with the snowy landscape.
After trying ice sculpting for the first time in Finse, a remote village between Bergen and Oslo, he became hooked. In 2001, he landed an apprenticeship at the Icehotel and by 2019 he was appointed creative director.
Over the years, he has built a range of impressive ice structures all over the world, and his clients include British sculptor Anish Kapoor and fashion brand Chanel.
“It is obviously most important to be comfortable in the cold,” Roncoroni says of his job, “but above anything else I think it is essential to have a desire to learn and take time to practise, practise and practise.
“As there is no school for this, the best thing to do is to learn by teaming up with a more experienced person.”