A CONVERSATION WITH PAUL SMITH.
What happens when the creative minds of iconic fashion designer Paul Smith and MINI Chief Designer Oliver Heilmer collide? A super-stylish MINI like no other, of course.
A stripped back version of the iconic MINI Electric, the one-off MINI Strip is all about showing the beauty of scratch marks, the power of simplicity and the importance of sustainability. But don’t just take it from us. The duo in charge sat down with MINI to chat all about their latest collaboration…
THERE’S STRENGTH IN SIMPLICITY.
When asked about the power of keeping things simple, Paul had a story to tell. “At the beginning of my career I designed a white shirt. To make such a simple piece of clothing seemed unambitious, especially for a young designer. But the collar was soft instead of stiff, which was usual at the time, and the seams were barely visible. The cut was voluminous and it was made of a special cotton fabric. In that respect, the shirt was innovative and new. And true, it does takes courage to design simplicity.”
And that’s exactly what our creative maestros channelled when crafting the MINI Strip. Quite literally characterised by its minimalism, the usual body paint is replaced with anti-corrosive coating and there are next to no instruments on its dashboard – including the iconic MINI centre console. “I think that keeping things simple is a mark of self-confidence”, Oliver explained. In that case, this car is oozing with it.
According to Oliver, “we kind of broke the unwritten law that even small cars have to be shiny, polished luxury products.” Instead of your usual colourful coat of glossy car paint, the MINI Strip is protected only by a thin, transparent film. And when it was delivered to Munich from our Plant Oxford factory, the duo opted to keep every scratch, mark and blemish it had picked up on the way.
Why? To show its material honesty and just how robust the MINI is. And to challenge how we think about what looks good. Classic Paul Smith, who fittingly explained it in terms of clothes. “We also like imperfections in fashion: take jeans that are bleached, roughened, patched or have holes. And what feels unfamiliar at first can, over time, become even more comfortable and likeable.”
CORK IS THE NEW CHROME.
The MINI Strip is sustainable as well as stylish. The hubcabs, radiator grille shell and panoramic sunroof are made entirely of recycled acrylic glass, helping reduce both weight and its ecological footprint. And inside, classic chrome is replaced plenty of cork. As well as a cool rustic look and improved acoustics, this underrated material has a long list of environmental benefits. We’ll leave it to the experts to explain…
Paul Smith told MINI that, “Cork is the bark of cork oaks, it’s a resource that grows back. It’s also completely recyclable and has technological advantages: it can be glued by heating, which means we can avoid environmentally harmful industrial adhesives.”
When asked to describe the MINI Strip in three words, Paul Smith summed it up just perfectly: “Less is more”. And with this one-of-a-kind car, that’s certainly the case.
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