Height of Winter

The world’s most romantic place. London, December 2015

← Back More ↓


From Monday 23 November until 31 January 2016, London’s own summit, The Shard, was transformed by Bompas & Parr into the world’s most romantic place, and an enchanting winter experience.

The innovative design duo collaborated with perfumers, composers, psychologists, neuroscientists and professors of visual culture on their quest to construct the most (scientifically-proven) romantic destination in the world.

To kick off the project, Bompas & Parr asked top academics to offer their insights and writings in response to the question ‘can setting, architecture and design be used to provoke a romantic response?’.

Drawing on these findings, each design decision was made with reference to the five main principles of romance defined by Richard J Williams, Professor of Contemporary Visual Culture at the University of Edinburgh. (1) a sense of enclosure; (2) within that enclosure, an arrangement that makes attention to the other inevitable, and irresistible; (3) furnishings that draw attention to the senses; (4) a sense of display, so the lovers are shown off to their best effect to each other, as well as to us, looking at them; (5) a sense of exterior threat. As Professor Williams says “a bit of danger works like magic”.

In response to these principles, the installation at the View from The Shard offered an intimate experience at an exhilarating height.

Friends, families and couples rising up the Shard were enclosed in a crystalline world of super-scaled crystals and gem-studded snow dunes, glowing crystal benches and a touch-responsive iridescent grotto where beating lights expressed the force of human connection. Bespoke scents hanging in the air and a specially designed soundscape by Dom James provoked feelings of romance and nostalgia.

The Height Of Winter offered a fine-tuned ensemble of enchanting multisensory stimulations that promised a truly romantic winter experience.

Bompas & Parr also added the studio’s signature touch, with the creation of evocative edible treats that were available to purchase on The View from The Shard’s Level 72 Skydeck; Snow White Hot Chocolate, Mulled Champagne and Christmas Candy Floss.

Sam Bompas, Director of Bompas & Parr said: “We are delighted to unveil The Shard as the most romantic place in the world. By combining adventure, risk and of course crystals we have created an installation whereby everyone can dream and connect with each other against the romantic canvas of winter wonder.”

Richard J Williams, Professor of Contemporary Visual Culture at University of Edinburgh said: “There are few things so reliable at producing the frisson essential to romance as the view from a tall building. The View from The Shard is crucial here: it alone activates many if the feelings we associate with romance … There has to be a sensuousness about the place, activating touch, or taste, or smell as well as sight and hearing. And there has to be – somewhere, however slight – a sense of danger that throws two people upon each other for safety.”

Photography by Oliver Dixon, Imagewise.