The new Kosta Boda Art Hotel, where the entrance has been given a functional style.

Luxury hotel sparkles in glass

Sweden already has an ice hotel. The first glass hotel is now also in place, located in darkest Småland, at the heart of Sweden’s Kingdom of Crystal. Seven glassmakers have been involved in the design of the unconventional hotel adjoining the Kosta glassworks.

Suddenly, the idea was born. Why not think of the entire hotel as a gallery? Emphasise the glassmakers’ work everywhere. In the lobby, restaurant, and yes, even in the swimming pool and hotel rooms. Plus, make all glass on display available for sale. This is precisely what has happened in the Kosta Boda Art Hotel, which opened early this summer adjacent to the established Kosta glassworks. Swedish glass production has deep roots in Småland’s forests, and had already gained worldwide renown by 1910 thanks to glass designers such as Simon Gate and Edward Hald. Despite the fact that there is no shortage of artistic genius, art glass has experienced increasingly hard times in today’s climate of mass production, low prices, and throwing away goods as soon as they are no longer of use.

Hotel and exhibition hall
To give new life to Swedish art glass was just one of the challenges faced by Torsten Jansson, owner of the New Wave Group, when he took over the prestigious Orrefors and Kosta Boda brands in 2005.

“There were plans for both a hotel and an exhibition hall,” recounts Mia Eskengren, manager of the Kosta Boda Art Hotel.“But, all of a sudden, the management realised that both projects could be combined into one.”

The hotel, with 102 rooms and suites is like no other. It could actually be more accurately described as an extravagant play house for some of the most renowned glass designers in Sweden today. Comfortable accommodation that also offers sumptuous food and drink, in surroundings significantly different to your ‘average’ designer hotel. The route to Kosta is bordered by mile upon mile of thick spruce and pine forests.

“The basic idea was to create good accommodation for affluent glass lovers,” says Mia Eskengren.“Up until now, there hasn’t been anywhere that the serious glasslover could stay overnight. Instead, they had to travel here for the day, maybe flying to Kalmar, and then travelling home again the same evening. However, we now have a nice hotel in the middle of the forest which has become an attraction in itself for anyone who wants to experience something different.”

Integrity and collaboration
Seven glass designers have contributed to the design of the hotel. Not least Sweden’s newest glass stars, Åsa Jungnelius and Ludvig Löfgren, who, like the other contributing glass designers, have added a personal touch to both a number of hotel rooms and to the communal hotel areas. Ludvig Löfgren’s lounge is pure white, so that his black and white skull lamps can be seen clearly against the round glass tabletops, which are bright violet and turquoise. His hotel room has a backdrop of hand-painted roses. Rows of Åsa Jungnelius’ hyperrealistic, oversized glass lipsticks and nail varnish bottles are logically placed in the hotel spa, as well as in the hotel rooms whose design she has contributed to. Cosmetic apricot-pink paint runs down the wall, all the way from the ceiling.

“Suddenly, the idea was born.Why not think of the entire hotel as a gallery? Emphasise the glassmakers’ work everywhere. In the lobby, restaurant, and yes, even in the swimming pool and hotel rooms. Plus, make all glass on display available for sale.”

The lobby, which is the first area the visitor gets to see, is the work of Bertil Valliens. A huge chandelier filled with thin glass spheres fills the room in front of his boat-like sculptures of faces. The colour scheme is grey and orange, which is also true of the boldly curved fibreglass ‘Dune’ chairs designed by the Danish designer Jonas Lyndby Jensen for Skandiform. These chairs would normally only be available in black or white with oak frames. However, a unique, contrasting variant has been created for the hotel, which also brought the designer and manufacturer into the interior design.

“It’s obviously been great for us as a supplier, to be able to take such an active role in a design project,” says Maria Lehmann, Sales and Marketing Manager for the manufacturer, Skandiform. No-less spectacular is Kjell Engman’s underwater-style bar, where everything from the chairs to the bar itself  is in deep-blue glass.The same designer, who dives in his spare time, is behind the indoor pool, where nine submerged ‘grottos’ act as display cases.The content of this underwater glass exhibition can be changed on a regular basis.

“Kjell has been involved right from the start.We’ve almost had to bind and gag him as he’s come up with so many ideas,” explains Håkan Corneliusson, who, together with his wife Nina at Basco Interiör, has been responsible for project managing the interior design of the hotel, where other contributing glass designers have been Ulrica Hydman Vallien, Anna Ehrner and Göran Wärff.

To hold a project together when you have seven strong artistic types who always want to get their point across sounds like something of a nightmare for an interior designer. Yet both Håkan and Nina are enthusiastic. The glass hotel is the most enjoyable project they’ve ever worked on. The collaboration with the seven glass designers has been marvellous. “They all have a strong sense of integrity,” says Håkan. “And they’ve also generally seen the possibilities,rather than the limitations. It’s been an amazing challenge for us to promote each artist’s individuality.While still
finding and maintaining continuity.”