‘A lot of bang with a bing, a rush of nothingness.’ That’s how Sam Bompas, half of food experience designers duo Bompas & Parr, described the effects of ether when taken in small amounts. In a breakout session on What Design Can Do for Drugs the participants where able to experience it personally, while thinking about new, contemporary use of the age-old drug.
Upon arrival the large group of participants for this breakout was treated with cocktails containing champagne, some ether and strawberries. While we sipped on this, Bompas talked about the history of ether. Today it is much used as an anesthetic, easy to obtain from the internet for doctors and scientists. Arabian alchemists discovered the substance around 1300. Halfway the 19th century it was a popular ingredient for cocktails in high society in Europe and the US. Ireland even had a lot of ether addicts for some time.
The effects of the stuff became more noticeable after a second thrillingly coloured cocktail. It felt pretty much as if I had emptied an entire bottle of champagne. But Bompas reassured us that in such small amounts ether is harmless and the effect gone after an hour, leaving you with just a slight hangover! But for the moment, intoxicated as we were, we started overconfident and inspired our search for new ways of use for this funny drug.
Secret Feather Sniffing Society
The briefing was clear: we had to think of how ether could be used, by whom, on which occasions and what paraphernalia would be needed. In groups of eight the participants embarked on noisy, hilarious brainstorms, with lots of laughter and self-confident presentations of ideas.
Finally five ideas where presented, varying from putting ether in desserts, to secret lift stops for a quick ether moment, and hide ether in party masks. The winning concept was a ‘Secret Feather Sniffing Society’ for people who sniff ether from feathers, alone or together in a sensual tickling feather encounter.
Through this breakout we had been given a quick look into the broad-minded and knowledge driven approach of things by Bompas & Parr, leaving us with happy feelings and hardly a hang-over.
Top image: Sam Bompas presenting the champagne-ether cocktails (photo Leo Veger)