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Paul Smith strips the Mini. Image by Mini.

Paul Smith strips the Mini
Paul Smith has put his signature on a very unique and more sustainable Mini
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What's all this about?

This is the Mini Strip, which is a collaboration between Mini and the British designer, Paul Smith. Instead of being a piece of iconic design in the way the Paul Smith original Mini was, this is a reflection of sustainability. The blurb says that this electric Mini Cooper SE has been stripped (Mini Strip - get it?) back to its bare essentials, showcasing how materials can be be reused, not just in the construction of the car but at the end of the car's life. It's just a marketing thing and so will never actually go into production, but as an exercise in what can be done, it's interesting.

What's the sustainability bit then?

The concept of minimalist reduction has been applied, which means getting rid of stuff you don't need, such as paint. The bodywork has been left in its raw state, complete with grinding marks and only a transparent film has been applied for protection. In a few places the screws are visible so it's easier to take apart when parts have reached the end of their life. Some of the exterior parts have been 3D printed using recycled plastic. Recycled Perspex has been used for the radiator grille, wheel covers and even the panoramic roof, all of which actually helps to make the car lighter and more aerodynamic which could well improve the car's range.

What's it like inside?

The first thing you notice when you open the doors is the signature Paul Smith stripes and then you see all the stripping back that's gone on inside too. The circular infotainment system has gone, replaced by a cradle for your smartphone. You won't see any chrome and the leather on the seats has been replaced by knitted fabric. The floor mats are made from recycled rubber and the top of the dashboard, parcel shelf and door shoulders are all made from cork, which is great if you need to pin a map of where you need to go on the dash, or an inspirational note.

Smith loves bicycles and that could be why the steering wheel is wrapped in handlebar tape, so it actually looks like a 1980s Ford Cortina. The spokes are made from aluminium and bolted with visible screws and a mesh has been used to cover the centre, allowing you to see the airbag behind it. The same mesh is used to cover the insides of the doors while the pull handles are made from orange climbing rope. As if this isn't all interesting enough, the airbag unit in the roof pillar is exposed like some kind of 'break glass in emergency' device.

What other Paul Smith bits does it have?

In true designer style, there's a Paul Smith signature on the dash and he has also put his unique touch on the charging flap with an engraving of an electric plug. He also requested the interior be blue so as to make it feel "dressed" even though it's more spartan than a regular Mini.

We're not sure the Mini Strip is ever going to be as well known as the Paul Smith look on the original Mini, but it shows what can be done with sustainable materials and could make people think about things in a slightly different way.

Mark Smyth - 12 Aug 2021

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