'Appy new year!
It doesn’t matter if you’re lounging at home or partying with mates, marvel at this year’s spectacular fireworks show with the first official London NYE app from Vodafone. Get it from Google play or the App Store to experience a dazzling display over London’s skies.
An interview with Bompas & Parr
Who are Bompas & Parr and what do you do?
Bompas & Parr is a practice founded in 2007 by Sam Bompas and Harry Parr, focused on flavour based experiences, culinary research, architectural installations and contemporary food design.
The early work of the studio focused on jelly as a vehicle to explore the relationship between food and architecture through the senses. The research, which resulted in jellies shaped like St Paul’s Cathedral and other architectural monuments, put a big smile on people’s faces. Since then, we’ve been on an epic culinary journey, working both food and flavour on an architectural scale.
How did you meet?
Harry and I have known each other for most of our lives. We met at school playing in a rubbish orchestra and have since been on many excellent adventures.
Like many of the best ideas, Bompas & Parr started over a beer in the pub. Harry and I wanted to do something fun at the weekend and a jelly stall at London’s Borough Market seemed like a fun idea. We scrambled to set up bank accounts, websites and branding only to be turned down by the market.
It was a bit of a set-back at first but in reality it probably liberated us to realise our wildest gustatory dreams. We’ve created breathable clouds of gin & tonic, chocolate waterfalls flowing at 12,000 litres an hour and the world’s first flavour-changing chewing gum.
How did you become interested in food and flavours?
Visiting Medieval Times (a popular themed restaurant) aged six was key for me. Food was served alongside entertainment, including jesters, jousting and sorcery. It was hard not to finish the meal on a high. It was an important lesson in dining as sensory assault. By creating spectacle, the choreographers made the meal sublime.
What was the inspiration for your First?
At Bompas & Parr we’ve always been obsessed with fruit. I like the sense of wonder you get when thinking of the massive social, cultural, biological and gustatory implications of a simple fruit like the banana.
Our initial concept was simple – ‘Flavoured Fireworks’. Together with Vodafone we’ve then spent the last six months with our noses to the grindstone to make it happen.
How did you create the world’s first multi-sensory firework display?
We wanted to work with Vodafone to create a truly unique experience. So we’ve gone on a global fruit quest tracking down the ultimate fruits to flavour the fireworks with. Across the world, there are 240,000 to 500,000 plant species that bear fruits of which 70,000 to 80,000 are thought to be edible and tasty, so the editing process has been crucial. The fruits that we’ve chosen are cross-cultural, so everyone can relate to them, and recognisable.
What do you hope people will feel when they experience your First?
The evening will be a total sensory assault. As people experience flavoured fireworks for the first time, we hope it’ll be a real thrill.
What does it feel like to do something for the first time?
Exhilarating and enabling.
Our Multi-Sensory Fireworks project for Vodafone’s Firsts is the most ambitious project to date. It will be see the greatest number of people in human history having a simultaneous flavour experience! We’ve been working hard for the last six months, on how to choreograph joy!
What have been the highlights in this journey?
The joy of working on a project like this is being able to collaborate with all sorts of experts and applying their specialist knowledge to achieve an effect that everyone can enjoy.
For this project we’ve worked with fruit farmers, pyro technicians, flavour scientists, special effects experts and even historians. All with the aim of giving people an unprecedented New Year’s Eve.
It’s been a blast. We’ve tracked down the world’s best tasting strawberry and entered a chamber of wonders a flavourist’s lab which houses over 2000 flavours, all for research.
What role does technology play in your ambition?
Technology is crucial to the experience. For New Year’s Eve, we worked with Vodafone to connect with a range of experts to assemble a huge concentration of special effects and flavours that will all be fired digitally across the crowd of thousands. There’s no room for error. We have also worked with Vodafone to create the first London New Year augmented reality smartphone app, allowing people to enjoy the experience from home. The app will be available to download on IOS7 and Google Play from 28th December 2013
We hope everyone will reach for their phones and share their first experience of multi-sensory fireworks.
London NYE fireworks 2013
London NYE Fireworks 2013, a free celebration presented by Vodafone and Mayor of London. The night skies will be a blaze of light and colour at midnight on New Year’s Eve with a display of stunning pyrotechnics from the EDF Energy London Eye on the famous South Bank. On the night expect very large crowds so do plan your journey, or experience the spectacular at home live on BBC 1. Visit: www.london.gov.uk/nye to find out more.