Hyper-essay: the ephemeral

Selected projects: Ice Hotel & The Fragility of Time

The first thing that strikes me about both of these projects is the ephemerality of the artworks. Weeks, months, and maybe years of careful work and planning have been put into these projects, only for them to last perhaps a month or two at best.


The Fragility of Time 

Designer Ignacio Canales Aracil created these frail flower sculptures by pressing, drying and weaving wild flowers. No adhesive was used. The process is rough, compared to the fragility of the final result, and an adhesive is used to protect it from moisture.


Ice Hotel

This hotel is created by more than 50 people every winter.  Artists from all over the world arrive at the end of November to sculpt hotel decor from ice. In spring, the hotel melts away and returns to nature.

Both of these works clearly require meticulous handiwork and attention to detail. Ice Hotel also has a time limit, unlike The Fragility of Time. Artists have to finish their sculptures before the hotel is due to open for tourists to arrive. This puts their planning on a tighter limit than Aracil’s artwork.


We can put them both into Ramroth’s five phases of project management. They have a starting point – in the case of Ice Hotel, especially, it’s when winter comes around – and in both cases, the how and the what takes up the bulk of planning. What should they sculpt flowers or ice into? How will they do it?

Then there is the design phase, where they would have brainstormed and discarded various ideas before settling on a final concept. Finally they would begin sculpting under a time limit.

It is apparent that much planning has gone into both projects. Both projects have limited resources, and have some form of time limit, whether it is in the passing of seasons or in the fragility of flowers.

I can be sure of one thing: neither the Ice hotel nor Aracil’s flower sculptures could have come to pass without some form of project development and planning.

4 thoughts on “Hyper-essay: the ephemeral”

  1. 50 people compare to 1 Ignacio. Do you think the synergy formed by the 50 people would make the ICE Hotel a better project than The Fragility of Time?

    I like how you compare 2 works according to their impermanence state. I did Ignacio’s artwork as well but I did not see it that way, so you certainly open up my mind and eyes. You mention Ramroth’s 5 phases of project management in your essay. In your opinion, how do the closure of this 2 projects would be? Will they be different?

  2. Hi Jazlyn,

    Can you add links to the original posts on OSS of the two projects?

    It seems that fragility, impermanence (cf. Kamarul), and time constraints are concepts common to the two projects. How does this play out in terms of project management?

    You can analyse by creating fantasies!

    For example, imagine that you are the architect given the task of designing next winter’s Ice Hotel. You are given a location and a budget by the local community. What would your priorities be? Would you follow last years success recipe, or create something entirely new..?

    Other project: imagine that Ignacio Aracil calls you up (on Twitter?) one fine day and wants to hire you as PM for his first show in Singapore. Say yes! He wants you to start with his creations and from that make ten wearable flower sculpture-dresses for a fashion show in Singapore in four months time. How would you set up the budget? Who would you rope in? At which venue would you show it?

    1. Sure, will do.

      Project management would be similar to other creations, except that motivation may not be as high because the final product is transient. It’s also always harder to work with fragile materials than sturdy ones that will endure through wear and tear. Budgeting would be a problem because fragility and impermanence in a project makes it less forgiving.

      If I was an architect working for the Ice Hotel, to be honest, I’d follow the success recipe, but add a twist. The hotel itself is successful, but the theme is subject to creativity. Perhaps I would try a theme that has not been attempted before.

  3. Hi Jazlyn! The title for your hyper essay struck me and I also enjoyed the essay of yours. Probably you can also touch upon the significance of these projects? Touching on what Kamarul had mentioned, “50 people compared to 1 Ignacio” why wouldn’t Aracil do the project with more people? Amongst the 50 people, not 50 of them are project managers too, who can be identified as the one spearheading the project?

    Despite the projects being ephemeral, I also would like to add that the Ice Hotel occurs periodically while Aracil’s project is probably done only once. However, the future of Aracil’s project can be amplified in a sense of being placed in exhibition after exhibition, provided the flowers are still intact! 🙂

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