Meet the Makers: Sam Bompas | Bompas & Parr

Can you tell us what an average work day looks like in your studio?

Any given day will involve:

• A tasting of holographic jellies for a forthcoming feast
• Meetings with experimental psychologists, theatre directors and captains of industry
• Hitting the workshop to develop explore our infra-sound speaker built by TPI can be linked to volcanic activity to create a ultra-powerful seismic sound-bath
• A mountain of emails and the caffeine laced thrill of approaching deadlines.

What books/magazines are inhabiting your coffee table, at the moment?

At the moment we are entirely obsessed with ice-cream as we are shortly to mount a major exhibition on the creamy dessert. This will be in Kings Cross showcasing the world’s largest collection of ice-cream paraphernalia, over 14,000 objects collected by gods of the frozen bowl, Caroline and Robin Weir. The Weirs are some of my all time heroes.

The exhibition is opening at the end of June so right now we are fighting our way through countless publication on historic ice cream. Beyond the Weirs own book ‘Ices’ which is definitive, Ivan Day’s ‘Ice Cream’ has also been helpful. Pop down if you are in London for ice-cream weather and serves hewn (responsibly) from glaciers themselves. Also:

• Cabinet magazine
• The Economist
• Atlas Obscura
• Food by Alan Davidson
• A Lot Has Happened in the Kitchen Since You Last Bought a Cookbook
• Neuromancer by William Gibson
• Fireworks by George Plimpton
• Where Chefs Eat published by Phaidon
• Feast by Roy Strong
• Cooking with Coolio by Coolio

What kit/tools can you not live without?

Gaffer tape and black bin bags come to every installation. You can remedy almost any situation when you have them by your side. Prit stick never leaves my bag. I travel all the time and use it to stick together note cards for presentations.
Fireworks. Life is better with powerful explosives. Right now I’m training for my cat4 fireworks rating.

The best designed business cards. Always aim to outdo others in the Patrick Bateman stakes. I’d love to open up Business Card Battler – an online portal to definitively define, once and for all, who has the best business card. Ours is a weighty ivory, gold embossed both sides, with custom fonts, and octagonally clipped corners. The design is based on an obscure 19th Century whisky label and emerald-cut diamonds. Once the police called me as they found a guys wallet with nothing but my card inside.

What’s your favourite word and why?

Excess. Excess is the watchword for all our creative work. No-one needs to taste the world’s 25 rarest honeys in a single sitting, surrounded by a living hive of 20,000 thousand bees as we did at Salone del Mobile for Relais & Château. But it was Valentino told John Waters that, ‘Excess is success’; this has been our compass to glory ever since.

Which artists (dead or alive) have influenced your work?

The greatest showman of them all PT Barnum who noted that ‘where there’s a crowd, there’s a silver lining.’

Also Alexis Soyer, swaggering chef, romantic and the Victorian equivalent of Jamie Oliver. His party trick was roasting whole oxen, he invented a stove in the 1860s that was still in service with the British Army in the Falklands and spent his entire year’s salary creating a funerary monument to his ballerina lover.

What can people expect from your talk at thread next month?

I’ll be hosting a full and frank expose on Bompas & Parr’s approach to sensory creativity punctuated spectacle and enlivened with tasters from the studio’s kitchen. The talk will cover:

• Countless strange and unusual stories about how your senses work.
• All Bompas & Parr’s sensorial secrets gleaned working on projects for the likes of 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 – eleven years experience on creating compelling experience distilled into a swift evening lecture.
• Tasters for your experienced palate.

What words of advice would you give to an 18 year old you?

When I was eighteen my headmaster gave me two bits of advice. One was a tad weird the other fairly useful:

? ‘Never commit adultery while wearing a dressing gown in the school colours.’

? ‘Drive your desk. It is those spare twenty minutes that make all the difference in life. Spend them working to find your edge’.

You can only speculate why the former would be useful at all. After all, the sins you omit are worse than those you commit. But the latter piece has certainly proved invaluable. I’d urge a young me to abide by this. Were I to be on my deathbed right now, I’d definitely wish I’d spent more time working.