Kjetil Trædal Thorsen grew up on the remote coastal island of Karmøy, Norway, and studied in Germany and England in his youth. It was during his two years in England that he discovered his love for art and, through art, architecture.
Thorsen completed his degree in Austria at the Technische Universität, and subsequently established a one-man private practice, collaborating with other independent architects and landscape architects to increase cross-pollination among different professions in the fields of design, art, and architecture. He and Craig Dykers cofounded Snøhetta after a successful collaboration in the competition to reincarnate the Alexandria Library in Egypt.
Thorsen is an active member of the Norwegian Architecture Association (NAL) and lectures throughout Europe and Asia. He also cofounded Norway's first architectural gallery, Galleri ROM.