Whilst predominantly working with food, a lot of your work seems to be concerned with providing a multi-sensory experience. Could you talk a little about this and how you try to captivate all senses beyond taste?
Food is the ultimate multi-sensory medium. If you are cooking for someone you are luxuriously addressing all the senses. Even sound – both through bone conductivity and mastication and a grand playlist; there is nothing worse than a restaurant with a poor acoustic profile.
Now we set out to delight the full gamut of the senses – giving folks a total sensory assault. One that grips them by the throat and says, “on your knees!” in a stentorian voice.
A lot of your projects contain a very physical element beyond the conceptual/food-focused part. How do you go about reacting to a brief? Does the food always come first?
All our ideas start with a simple two-word concept. Lava Banquet, Multisensory Fireworks, Breathable Booze or Thermochromatic Flowers. It then has to work experientially for the people who attend and visually and verbally for those who can’t and are seeing it in the press and on social media. Ultimately it has to have a total emotional impact. Renoir said, “I paint with my penis.” We take the same approach.
What does a typical day look like for you at Bompas and Parr? If indeed there is such a thing…
This is beyond impossible as there is so much vigour and variety between days. One day last week, for example, I worked on an armpit-sniffing speed dating event, took delivery of a black metal electric wheel chair, developed cocktail recipes for the Museum of Sex in NYC and began researching the future of plants.
Your website highlights a prominent list of 'fine art' projects you've undertaken. How do these come about? Do you approach them differently to the way you would approach a commercial brief?
We don’t differentiate between fine art projects, self-initiated projects, private commissions and installations for brands. I suspect the laureled artists of yore didn’t either. Ultimately it is about doing excellent work that gives participants and viewers a compelling emotional experience.