Upcycling of the highest order: a legendary classic is transformed into a newly designed and modernised electric car for emission-free driving. Sir Paul Smith, long familiar to fans of the iconic British brand that has been in business of over 50 years, is the creative mind behind this collaboration. The presentation of this sustainable project at the Salone Del Mobile 2022 in Milan provided a fitting stage for Sir Paul Smith and Oliver Heilmer, Head of MINI Design, to discuss sustainable approaches to automotive design.
Only last summer, Paul Smith presented the MINI STRIP at the IAA motor show in Munich: a radically reduced, sustainable concept car. Paul Smith's MINI Recharged model now revisits this idea to explore the possibilities of sustainable design. "Three things describe this car perfectly: quality, sustainability and functionality," the designer explains.
"This car also respects the past,” Smith adds. With this one-off, Paul Smith is revisiting an even older project that has linked him to MINI for over 20 years: in 1998 he created the MINI Paul Smith Edition, limited to 1,800 vehicles. The prototype of this unique edition was painted a bright blue based on a swatch taken from one of Paul Smith’s favourite shirts. The new unique model retains this unmistakable, memorable shade of colour, while the lime green battery box recalls a 1990s colour palette. Despite the redesign, however, the original ethos of the car remains.
The project is also about respecting heritage and timeless design – in particular, the iconic work of Sir Alec Issigonis, creator of the first Mini. "When you move into your old aunt's flat, out of respect you don't change everything, but you do some modernising," is how Smith puts it. Sir Alec Issigonis developed the classic Mini in response to the oil crisis of 1959. Minimum fuel consumption, maximum use of space – that was the idea that convinced millions of people over many decades to invest in a Mini, and is still partly responsible for the success of MINI today.
PLAYFUL COOPERATION: MINI IS SPONSOR AND MOBILITY PARTNER OF GAMESCOM FOR THE FIRST TIME AND PRESENTS THE MINI CONCEPT ACEMAN WITH POKÉMON MODE.