Famous British designer Paul Smith has done more collaborations than you can imagine. There has been Braun, Globe-Trotter, Leica, New Balance etc. Paul Smith also joined hands with Land Rover five years ago and introduced three unique edition variants of the Defender to mark the end of production of the iconic model. This year, the fashion designer is creating something special, subtle, and sustainable called the ‘Mini Strip.’ This custom-made one-off car results from the collaboration between MINI and Paul Smith announced in November 2020.
The splendid result is a car entirely stripped back and materials replaced with cork and recycled plastics. This ‘stripped-back’ electric Mini comes with a panoramic roof made of recycled and recyclable light Perspex. Take a peek inside, and you will find the cabin is entirely leather and chrome-free, with seats replaced with reusable knitted fabric. Keeping the theme of sustainability intact, the dashboard is made of salvaged cork and seat belts from repurposed climbing rope. The floor mats are made from recycled rubber with their terrazzo-like pattern, a by-product of the recycling and manufacturing process.
At the end of the day, all these repurposed materials are still recyclable. Oliver Heilmer, Head of MINI Design, mentioned, “For me, the MINI STRIP shows in an impressive way that MINI and Paul Smith share the same bold way of thinking about the future in terms of innovation and design – and together we create more. Paul asked essential questions right at the start of the design process with his non-automotive and therefore fresh perspective. We are proud to have developed such a strong character statement together.” Bicycle enthusiast Sir Paul has driven the Mini for 20 years. Though he is not a car-holic, by his own admission, he truly enjoyed the experience of rendering the classic ‘Paul Smith’ twist of unexpected details to Mini.
This new variant, other than the exception of the dashboard, topper pad, and parcel shelf, has no parts spared, turning the exposed basic body-shell and vivid blue paintwork into the dominant visual feature of the cabin. The exterior shows an unfinished state with no colored paint applied. Instead a thin film of transparent color to protect against corrosion and reveal the scratches, imperfections and ‘distressed’ elements that are intentionally left there to keep the ‘rawness’ of the car evident. “I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity to rethink the iconic MINI. I know and love the existing car, but by respecting the past and looking to the future, we have created something very special,” said Smith.
He continued, “I feel very privileged that the MINI team has given me the confidence and freedom to think laterally about the approach to the design of the car. Together, I think we have created something truly unique, by going back to basics, reducing things down and stripping the car.”