"Sam Bompas and Harry Parr were schoolfriends who had an idea in their 20s to make jelly cool"by Wendell Steavenson / January 17, 2017 / Leave a comment
Back end of Bermondsey, industrial shed. I buzzed and a grey metal door opened. Into chaos and jumble: rubber fishtail costumes, upturned rowboats, a cabinet full of jelly moulds in the shape of famous buildings. Sam Bompas, half of the duo of Bompas & Parr, events organisers extraordinaire, apologised for the mess. He talked a mile a minute, shuffling inspirations like a deck of cards: Victorian cookbooks, astronomers, “infrasounds” that resonate below the scale of human hearing and can make your eyeballs vibrate. “Nasa has done loads of research… Do you know Scriabin? The constructionist composer?” He explained that Scriabin’s unfinished final work, Mysterium, mixed touch, sight and hearing. “He wanted to play it in the Himalayas with a chorus of angels and bells suspended from the clouds.” The next day Bompas was heading to Berlin to oversee an event. “More than 2,000 people; well basically it’s a rave.”
Bompas and Harry Parr were schoolfriends who had an idea in their 20s to make jelly cool. Stripy jellies, jellies designed by architects. Gelatin ambitions evolved into a successful events and catering business. They have flooded a basement with four tonnes of punch for Courvoisier, created a cake-themed crazy golf course on the roof of Selfridges and curated the world’s first museum of food (the British Museum of Food was open for a few months early in 2016; they are now looking for a permanent site), where one exhibit simulated the sensation of being swallowed. Their projects straddle culture, commerce and corporate; they employ artists, graphic designers, videographers and actors. “We now call ourselves experience designers,” Bompas said, as he cleared a path through a jungle of Perspex tubes stuffed to explode as giant party poppers, so that we could sit down.
Readers of this column may recall that I too like to create fun extravaganzas—the Battle of Waterloo in food; Alice’s tea party complete with a live rabbit in a hat-shaped cake. Food and eating have become increasingly experimental and experiential. Universities have started studying the confluence of taste, environment and emotion. Fear dulls taste, for instance. One of Bompas’s elves explained miraculin, a fruit extract that resets your taste buds to perceive sour as sweet; lemons into lemonade. Taste is multisensory and is being played with.
The following Sunday I took my brother…