Our design London: architectural foodsmiths Bompas & Parr
Sam Bompas and Harry Parr, both 29, take sensory experiences to a new level. Merging architecture, cutting-edge technology and lots of food, their projects range from jelly sculptures of London landmarks to putting crazy golf and a lake on the roof of Selfridges.
Working closely with graphic designers, engineers, cooks and curators, their south London studio is a hub of cool creativity. And their best ideas are fuelled by the capital’s hidden treasures.
Where we live
Sam Bompas: my house is just south of the river in Borough. I live with my girlfriend and my younger brother who is a high-powered lawyer. I like the rumble of the trains nearby.
The best local restaurant is The Anchor & Hope, a gastropub, but we regularly go to Brindisa (brindisa.com) for Spanish tapas. Another favourite is the Lord Clyde pub (lordclyde.com), which is handily right between my house and our studio.
Harry Parr: for six years I’ve lived in a Victorian terrace house in Bermondsey — the real Bermondsey, not the new trendy bit. It’s close to our London Bridge studio and also benefits from a local Wimpy where the customer service is excellent.
Secret shop: for the home
SB: Darkroom on Lamb’s Conduit Street (darkroomlondon.com) has some beautiful objects.
Also, we’re currently obsessed with the Rockman & Rockman Geometric Living collection of side tables (right; rockmanandrockman.com). Each piece is handmade in their east London studio, close to Shoreditch, the capital’s furniture spiritual home.
HP: every branch of restaurant chain Canteen (canteen.co.uk) appears so effortlessly elegant. The associated design studio, Very Good & Proper (verygoodandproper.co.uk), has some wonderful chairs and tables. You can also buy them at twentytwentyone (twentytwentyone.com) in Upper Street, Islington. It’s hard to stop at just one place though.
Most stylish destination
SB: the Masonic Temple in the Andaz Hotel (andaz.hyatt.com) in Liverpool Street has everything you could ever hope for in terms of style. A black-and-white marble chequered floor, golden zodiac ceiling, hand pump organ and mahogany thrones for its members. We’ve hosted some amazing dinners there which have included a screening of Jodorowsky’s Holy Mountain, dishes that had veal, black pudding, frogs legs and snails on a single plate, and a vast ice sculpture hacked apart with axes — it’s just the wackiest, weirdest place.
Where to shop for materials and fabrics
Both: London is our cornucopia and we suck up buckets of strange and exotic materials for our constructions. In any given day we may be hitting up White Light (whitelight.ltd.uk) for a thousand LEDs, or Alfa Aesar (alfa.com) for odd chemicals or the Ginger Pig (thegingerpig.co.uk) at Borough Market to create a golden pig’s head. And the fabric? We get it cheap and dirty from Rolls & Rems (rollsandrems.com) in Lewisham. You can always strike a tasty deal there.
Best item of home memorabilia
HP: I’m building a bed with my girlfriend, Cecilia Carey, who is a set designer (ceciliacarey.com). The headboard is modelled on a packet of McDonald’s french fries. The fries are actually upholstered foam cushions, which you can take out and use as bolster cushions.
SB: the overall look of my bathroom. As a Cancerian, water is key — so baths fulfil my spiritual side. I have imagined that my bathroom is a Neanderthal party grotto; a weird rockpool three stories above the street below.
Coveted design object
HP: Faye Toogood (fayetoogood.com) helped us put the lake and crazy golf on top of Selfridges last year. She has recently released a new collection of furniture. The Spade trestle tables melt my brain.
- © Getty
HP: I’ve always loved the Victoria and Albert Museum (vam.ac.uk). It’s a handy source of inspiration for Sam and me. One of our copper jelly moulds of St Paul’s Cathedral is actually owned by one of the V&A curators. Maybe one day it could be edged into the collection: one is already touring with Added Value? which is a Crafts Council exhibition, so who knows?
HP: Kew Gardens (kew.org) is incredible. The Marks Barfield Architects (marksbarfield.com) ariel walkway is outrageously good and there is so much space to hang out with the trees. The firm is also responsible for The London Eye (londoneye.com).
SB: the Barbican’s secret jungle conservatory (barbican.org.uk) is a tropical oasis in the heart of the city. We sneak in on the weekend and hang out with a Red Stripe next to the Monstera Deliciosa, a creeping vine.
Designers to admire
SB: the mysterious Maud Traon (maudtraon.net) is an artist and jewellery designer who melts down My Little Ponies and electroforms them into fantastic rings and brooches. Last year Maud made us the ultimate heavy metal cup encrusted with jewels.
Sam Bompas: as part of London Design Festival in 2012 we exhibited our jelly mould of St Paul’s Cathedral. It is now touring with the Craft Council’s Added Value? exhibition, which explores how craftsmanship is becoming a new language for luxury. It has been a strange but enjoyable experience for us. We usually create objects like St Paul’s jelly mould in order to feed people: the object itself doesn’t tend to have value beyond the pleasure that it can give to diners. Being part of a project like Added Value? is fascinating as we see our moulds pedestaled in their own right - the exhibition frames them, giving them value beyond that of a tool for creating wobbly desserts.
Harry Parr: our installation, The Waft That Woos, is at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. It is a mirror maze, following the scent of a specially-concocted love potion and inspired by The Merry Wives of Windsor. As it’s a working flavour labyrinth navigable by nose, we’ve developed a Shakespearian love oil as the signature fragrance. This contains the only aphrodisiac known to mankind their visitors can absorb through their lungs and eyeballs.
Feasting with Bompas & Parr, published by Pavilion, is available now, priced £25 (jellymongers.co.uk).