Bompas and Parr creates pineapple island for Kew

In the eyes of Bompas and Parr the pineapple is a pervasive leitmotif, which permeates our culinary, cultural and architectural landscape.

Kitt Neale used botanical illustrations from the Kew archive to create uniform designs
How the pontoon will look

It will also be the star of Tutti Frutti, a floating pineapple island adrift in Kew Gardens’ pond in front of its Palm House this summer.

The participatory piece has been conceived in the name of Kew Gardens’ summer festival IncrEdibles, a season celebrating the diversity of 30,000 edible plants.

Sam Bompas hopes that the piece will help people think about the food they eat everyday.

How the pontoon will look
Kitt Neale used botanical illustrations from the Kew archive to create uniform designs

With typical flamboyance Bompas and Parr have done this by encouraging visitors to reach the pineapple pontoon on foot via a walkway or by rowing boats, decorated as pieces of papaya, melon, durian and pear.

And why the pineapple? Bompas says, ‘As London natives, we are obsessed with pineapples in architecture. Take a wander around the capital, and you will see that the triumphant pineapple is a London-wide architectural motif. You can find them everywhere, from the pineapples of Lambeth bridge, to the finials of St Paul’s Cathedral.’

How the pontoon will look
Kitt Neale used botanical illustrations from the Kew archive to create uniform designs

Beneath the pineapple is ‘a secret banana grotto’ that Bompas tells us will be alive with the smell of bananas, which will waft on a current created from some clever humidifying and banana essence wizardry.

Perhaps most intriguingly there will also be a chance to ‘talk to the plants’ on pineapple island according to Bompas, who has worked with sound artist Mileece.

Kitt Neale used botanical illustrations from the Kew archive to create uniform designs
Kitt Neale used botanical illustrations from the Kew archive to create uniform designs

‘People can have emotional relationships with animals, but it’s quite hard with a plant,’ says Bompas, who wants to bring about an emotional connection, ‘to re-enchant our relationship with plants and food.’ 

As we understand it, Mileece uses the electro-magnetic emissions of plants and some clever coding to help them make music. This is how she does it:

Bompas says, ‘Our design process always starts with a raw ingredient – be it fruit, alcohol, chocolate, or coffee. Trace any ingredient back far enough and you get to plants.’

A Tutti Frutti book will be launched with the event. It sees Bompas and Parr bring leading experts from the fields of food, design and science together to share fruity recipes.

It has been designed by Inventory Studio, the team behind culinary art magazine The Gourmand.

Uniforms at the Tutti Frutti event – which will include goat skin leather aprons – have been designed by textile and fashion designer Kitt Neale, who explored the Kew archive with Bompas and Parr, where they had access to some 200,000 botanical illustrations, which have been manipulated to make these prints.

Joseph Kraska exploring 'food pinata' in the Tutti Frutti book
Joseph Kraska exploring ‘food pinata’ in the Tutti Frutti book

Tutti Frutti takes place from 25 May-1 September as part of Kew Royal Botanic Gardens’ IncrEdibles season at Kew, Richmond, Surrey, TW9

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