Bompas & Parr’s Sam Bompas interview

One half of Bompas & Parr talks about their instillation at Dubai Design District

Interview

What exactly are you two?
We’ve been called a lot of different things by different people in the past. Things like ‘culinary deviants’ and ‘jellymongers’. But actually how we’d describe ourselves now is, ‘culinary experience designers’. And that’s really because the most important thing, whether people are having a meal or anything else, is that they have a wonderful experience.

How did the Bompas & Parr story begin?
Harry Parr and I are old, old friends. Back in 2007 we decided it would be great fun to set up a jelly company. Harry trained as an architect and very early on we started using the skills that architects use to design buildings in order to design our jellies. We’ve continued with that practise, and that frivolity. We’ve been on an amazing culinary adventure all round the world, doing things with food that really get people to look again at what’s on the end of their fork. Like cooking with lava.

Who have you worked with for inspirational new ideas?
We’ve collaborated with people in all sorts of disciplines, from physicists working on plasma cookers and biotechnicians to send some coffee beans to space, and then retrieve them for a, erm, you know…fancy coffee. I’ve been working with a botanist to track down strange fruits from around the world.

Bompas & Parr will be at Dubai Design District this week. Tell us about your installation – Artisanal Chewing Gum Factory.
We often take a product that people take for granted and use design to make them fall in love with it again. Among all the food products in the world, one that is adored and abhorred in equal measure is industrially produced chewing gum. While it doesn’t have a nutritional function, it is an amazing medium for flavour, which is what we really want to explore with the artisanal chewing gum factory.

What can people expect from the factory?
We are inviting people to make one of the world’s most industrial food products, chewing gum, but they’ll be able to choose from more than 200 different flavours, with more than 40,000 possible combinations. People can smell different scents and imagine how they will go together to experience what master distillers, perfumers
and tasters do all around the world, which is to compose flavours, except they are making a chewing gum.

What’s the best thing about this installation?
The thing I love about it, is it’s very, very high end. It’s presented in this luxurious way, and it’s quite complex. But we are using a product that has been unloved and relegated to the bottom of people’s desk draws, handbags and shoes. I like that tension between the everyday and the luxurious.
Bompas & Parr’s Artisanal Chewing Gum Factory will be at Dubai Design District from April 2-4. www.dubaidesigndistrict.com (04 433 3000).

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