Bompas & Parr
Find out more about the duo founded in 2007 by Sam Bompas and Harry Parr and their food art edible jelly creations.
Sam Bompas and Harry Parr came to fame first for their love of jelly and architecture before they founded Bompas & Parr, their eponymous studio in 2007. The studio experiments, develops, produces, and installs projects, artworks and exhibitions related to food. Self described culinographers (a mash of culinary + pornography ) their sense of style, and over-the-top personas have led them to create food experiences that seem to defy logic. These two modern day Willy Wonkas (justly called as they’ve already constructed a chocolate waterfall and chewing gum that changes flavours), work from a studio that includes a kitchen for testing recipes, a warehouse for experiments, and a library of research books.
Bompas was raised in London Bridge and lived much of his life in the area. Co-founder Harry Parr met Bompas in orchestra class at Eaton as two mildly disgruntled cello and violin players, respectively. Becoming friends, they discovered a twin curiosity in jelly and an equally strong aversion to orchestra class. Bompas went on to work in property and PR and Parr in architecture. A love of entertaining and jelly gave Parr the idea to host elaborate dinner parties with friends, always stunning at the end with an artisanal, fresh fruit, blackberry jelly.
The two decided initially to start a business selling luxury artisanal jelly for fun, and as a possible way to get a stall at Borough Market. When refused the space the two were driven to more creative ideas, like their jelly banquet, an event that would end up being life-changing. From their passion and experience,
they were able to catch the interest and participation of famous architects like Richard Rogers and Lord [Norman] Foster. This event turned an impassioned hobby into a profitable and exciting string of collaborations and eventually the opening of their studio.
Harry Parr makes no separation between work and life, a hobby he admits has consumed also his friends and family’s lives. Now with a full staff they work with companies to created branded, food-related experiences. Though they describe themselves as having separate characters, the unique chemistry they share has led them to create spectacular experiences, that both agree happens when they’re together. Harry considers himself more low-key while Sam is more into the fantasy. They both however have the same desire to challenge people’s conception of what food and taste should be about and to create excitement. Food is about more than nutrition now, it’s entertainment. Coming up with ideas is not a problem, the difference is in the execution. As Harry says “Everyone’s got good ideas,” he says. “We’re just geeky enough to spend six months making it happen and not taking no for an answer.”.
Now leading experts in multi-sensory experience design they have executed projects on almost every continent working with commercial brands, art institutions, private clients, and even governments. All projects consider architectural factors and the need to hire (and find) multiple experts to produce
never-before-seen interactive experiences, the part which Harry Parr says he likes best. In reference to their project Alcoholic Architecture for instance he explains that he found a doctor who deals in extreme environments to create a gin and tonic cloud that was consumed through the lungs and the eyes. Each Bompas and Parr project seems more like a Lewis Carroll fantasy than an art installation. From an edible strawberry and peach fireworks display for New Years Eve in London to cocktails paired with music that pulsate to songs meant to enhance their flavor notes, Bompas & Parr are undeniable experts in the field.
Founding the British Museum of Food, and having published numerous books that explore humanity’s relationship with food and drink have led them to their release their Food Trends Report that makes market predictions for how food and drink will adapt according to fluctuating global influences, technological and scientific advancements, and wider cultural movements. Overall the duo hope to “make sustainability sexy rather than belaboring them [the public] with gloom and doom about the current state of the planet and food security.”
Bompas & Parr works with brands such as Coca-Cola, Johnnie Walker, Mercedes, Vodafone, and LVMH as well as cultural institutions such as The Barbican, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow.