De Vorm Pod Sessions | Sam Bompas

Even though the design is often focused on visuals, it’s not only about how things look. According to Sam Bompas, known as an ’architectural food smith', good design is always multi-sensory. His work presents a blend of unique tastes, custom inventions and loads of fun, delivering emotionally compelling experiences to people.

Creative food experiments of Sam Bompas started at the Borough Market in London, where he decided to sell jelly with his friend Harry Parr. Even though the idea wasn’t a huge success at first, the things Sam and Harry have learnt from it lead to some truly outstanding results.

One of them is Bompas & Parr studio - a globally recognised expert in the field of multi-sensory design. The agency has currently grown to 20 specialists, from chefs to architects. They are collaborating with different institutions to increase consumer engagement through unique experiences. These include food design, branding advice, immersive experiments and much more.

Innovative ideas of Bompas & Parr attracted the attention of many world-known brands, such as Coca-Cola, Johnnie Walker, Mercedes, Vodafone, and many others. The signature projects of the studio include the inhabitable cloud of gin and tonic as well as the world’s first multi-sensory fireworks. But that’s only a tiny portion of the outstanding creations realized by the studio all over the world.

Fun design

What makes the work of Sam Bompas stand out? It is unique, at times provocative, high on aesthetics and, most importantly, it’s all about fun. His designs are crafted to tackle endorphins in people’s brains, delivering a sense of surprise and joy.

“No one goes through their life and wishes:
God, I wish I had less fun.”

Fun is the most accurate description of everything Sam and his partners are doing. Their work goes way beyond any existing service - it’s rather a blend of art, food and experience design. To deliver an outstanding multi-sensory journey in each and every case, the team includes chefs, architects, journalists, PR people, graphic designers, artists and some quite extraordinary specialists.

"We’ve also got some very special people - from an ethnobotanist who sets to the wild jungles looking for rare and untasted fruits to a genetic scientist who is working on a few biology projects modifying DNA. To give people taste that they would have never been able to experience before."

Food design

Sam Bompas believes that architecture has a profound impact on taste. It’s not only what you eat but also where you eat. This idea is supported by the famous study conducted in 2003 by professor John Edwards at Bournemouth University. Serving the same ‘Chicken à la King’ at different locations, the researchers found out that it was rated much higher in a fancy restaurant than in boarding schools or army barracks. Even though the meal was exactly the same. To embrace these findings, Bompas and his team turn cooking into architecture:

‘We spend a lot of time choreographing the environment to enhance the taste of food. And we use design to help people develop a language to describe its taste.’

People very rarely try to understand the world through taste, even though they experience it all the time. Sam Bompas believes that his work provokes the conversations about flavours, turning food consumption into a qualitatively new experience.

‘For Johnny Walker, we’ve made the Flavour Conductor - a working organ which changes your perception of whisky taste as it plays. We were using music and sensory science to give people the language with which to describe the taste.’

Multi-sensory design

Sam Bompas firmly believes that good design is inherently multi-sensory. It is developed in a way to tackle all the senses of the human body. Only such synergy can deliver a full-fledged user experience. According to Sam, this goal was fulfilled in the design of De Vorm’s Pod Privacy Chair:

‘Listen: a chair’s sound is acoustically fantastic. It is very, very tactile.
You obviously notice it as the first thing when you walk into a room.
It is unusual.’

Lastly, designing consciously for all the senses allows you to make a single point. This is crucial in all projects realized by Sam and his studio. As people typically come once to their installations, they strive to make this single point truly memorable.

‘We choreograph all of those senses to articulate a single point
and to make people smile. That's it!’


About De Vorm Pod Sessions

Pod Sessions is a series of interviews with prominent creators and thinkers of our time. They share their thoughts on workplace design, the essence of art and the creative process. The interviews take place in our Pod PET Felt Privacy Chair.