One half of famous sensory experience designers, Bompas and Parr, Sam Bompas talks to us about his passion for the London Bridge area, and reveals his current project at The Shard.
Tell us how the partnership came about…and your reputation for architectural jellies.
It all started in this neighbourhood. Harry (Parr) and I have known each other for a terribly long time. I lived in London Bridge and Harry in Bermondsey, and between our houses was Borough Market. We loved going there and eight years ago had a thought, ‘wouldn’t it be fun to set up a stall there on the weekends’ We thought jelly would be genius! It would be cheap to make and we wouldn’t need much kit to make it. Little did we know what we were letting ourselves in for! We realised we’d need a lot of kitchenalia and jelly moulds, so with Harry’s architectural background, we set out to make our own.
We haven’t looked back. Our studio is still based here and has since gone on to create immersive flavour-based experiences ranging from breathable cocktails, a green boating lake and high-tea inspired crazy golf on Selfridges rooftop, the world’s first multi-sensory fireworks and a drive-through buffet during London Fashion Week. We now collaborate with specialist technicians, engineers, artists, scientists, musicians and many other disciplines to create wondrous events around the world.
What do you love about London Bridge?
Culturally, there is just so much more happening here, and yet with all the new developments and popularity there is still so much community spirit. There are a lot of undiscovered interesting cultural spaces in the area. The Kirkaldy Testing Museum is one of them, it contains the world’s most powerful beam engine. There is also Cross Bones Graveyard and the Boot and Flogger, which was the only place in the country that could serve alcohol without a license. El Vergel is a great little Latin place and my favourite pub is the beautiful Lord Clyde, which has been in the same family for three generations. There is a great barbers called Southwark Barbers, they have basically changed my life. I see Nick the barber more than I see my friends! He is amazing and has really good hands, he tells you how he will cut your hair, not the other way round.
Why did you chose Borough to launch your current project, ‘Alcoholic Architecture’?
It was a whole nexus really. In a very practical way, Borough Market has been feeding me for the last fifteen years. We also have a good relationship, and I just think that Borough Market has really come into its own again. I think they have consolidated what makes a market good.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I still can’t believe that we are getting paid to do what we do. It’s pretty wild! Essentially I get obsessed with strange and wonderful things; sound waves, rare fruit, volcanoes, Cymatics and explosives! That is where the inspiration comes from.
We are delighted to be creating a very special sensory winter experience at The View From The Shard which will open 23rd November. Keep an eye on their website for #ShardSnow news and booking details!