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Step Into the Future of Food With Bompas & Parr's Epochal Banquet at Expo Dubai 2020
"Evolution is a tightly coupled dance, with life and the material environment as partners."
~ James Lovelock
The highly anticipated Expo Dubai 2020 (opening on the 1st of October 2021) will feature a 'groundbreaking' and 'interstellar' food experience imagined by London based creative studio Bompas & Parr. Over two hours, lucky diners will journey through five courses shaped around five different epochs: from 'The Novacene' in 2320 to 'Al Dystopia' in 2120. In typical Bompas and Parr style, the menu is designed to tickle all the senses and push the boundaries of food using new and future technologies. Highlights from the menu include new-to-the-plate plants and flavour-changing desserts.
DLISH caught up with Bompas & Parr founders – Sam Bompas and Harry Parr – ahead of the Dubai Expo 2020 opening on the 1st of October. In this interview, the creative duo give a little insight into this tantalising foodie adventure that delves into space, the future, and imaginations.
Lynne Myers: What have you been working on since you last spoke to DLISH in 2020?
Bompas & Parr: A plethora of exciting projects have descended on the studio in the past year. From the World’s First Flavour Rainbow with the Royal Docks London, to an exquisite jelly collaboration with Louis Vuitton shooting a trunk of explosive fireworks with the cutting-edge Phantom Onyx v2640 ultra-slow-motion camera, Bompas & Parr continue to reinvigorate the creative realm with multi-sensory delights. Arguably our most notable project on the horizon is The Future of Food: Epochal Banquet at Dubai Expo 2020 – an immersive culinary experience inspired by space, microbiology, artificial intelligence and hyperintelligence designed to challenge the future of dining.
LM: How did your collaboration with Expo 2020 Dubai come about?
B&P: Expo 2020 was the ultimate challenge for Bompas & Parr. The six-month long celebration of human creativity, innovation, progress and culture provided the perfect platform for the studio to exercise its culinary prowess and experiment with never-before-seen technologies. Many of our past projects have been inspired by food innovations historically showcased at World Expos, thus the opportunity to lead the Dubai Expo 2020 pinnacle dining experience seemed truly fitting.
LM: Without ruining any surprises, tell us what visitors can expect to find at The Future of Food: Epochal Banquet?
B&P: The groundbreaking culinary odyssey will feature numerous world firsts, taking creativity, innovation and technology to a new level. Diners will have the opportunity to taste super-light delicacies formed using the same technique that NASA uses to collect comet dust; edible creations that glow in the dark; flavour-changing desserts; ultra-rare ingredients, including new-to-the-plate plants; and much more. Bompas & Parr has collaborated with leading scientists, designers and creative technologists to deliver a never-before-seen experiential installation.
LM: Tell us about the significance of the year 2320?
B&P: The theatrical experience is based on The Novacene, a publication by eminent 102-year-old scientist and inventor James Lovelock, which hypothesised the dawning age of hyperintelligence where robots and artificial intelligence will rule. The new benevolent age, he prophecies, will mould the world to enhance its own existence, as well as all those that coexist with it.
Visitors are invited to the opening of The Universal Museum of Food set in the year 2320, the era of Lovelock’s Novacene. The techno-fictional museum presents a history of food, one based on the very best contemporary science and stretching from Expo 2020 to three hundred years later. AI have created this museum as a means of positive human reflection, encouraging guests (who are the living descendants of the guests that visited the Expo in 2021) to learn about what preceded them and how they came to be.
As James Lovelock suggested in 2019: “The experience of watching your garden grow gives you some idea of how future AI systems will feel when observing human life.”
LM: The project highlights the impact of artificial intelligence on the future of dining. Can you explain what you think this impact will look like?
B&P: Each component of the dining experience has been carefully designed to tell the story of our future existence. There pervades an innate optimism, however difficult the challenges we face as humans, not least in the fate of our food chain.
In an interview with Bompas and Parr, Duncan Cameron, Co-Director at The Institute for Sustainable Food and Professor of Plant and Soil Biology at The University of Sheffield noted, “we can start to use spaces in our cities to create hydroponic farms, and even begin to use AI to make up for the decline in pollinating insects by creating swarms of mini pollinating robots with virtual bee brains”.
With the rise of hyperintelligence comes a new spirit of innovation and a verdancy of ultra-nature resulting in an abundance of all manner of foods, maximal combinations of ingredients, flavours, textures and colours and newly discovered, re-introduced and genetically modified plants and animals – all earthly delights on a plate.
LM: Are there any specific feelings or messages you wish to communicate with this culinary odyssey?
B&P: The curated experience is designed to entertain and inspire, while exploring important themes involving the future of food, including how humans and artificial intelligence can combine to sustainably feed a growing global population and tackle food waste, as well as the implications for future nutrition. Bompas & Parr hope to galvanise a new era of creative thinkers by inciting positive human introspection through the medium of food and experience design. To the humans and machines of the future, a series of messages will be buried beneath the Expo banquet site preserving a collection of 300-year vision quotes from eminent leaders of the Anthropocene.
Click here to see more of Bompas & Parr's work.
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