Mini Recharged & Paul Smith: An icon sustainably reinvented

British designer Paul Smith has redesigned and converted a classic Mini as part of the new MINI Recharged project.

The presentation of this sustainable project will take place this month at the Salone del Mobile 2022 in Milan, where Smith and Oliver Heilmer, Head of Mini Design, will discuss sustainable approaches to automotive design.

Last summer, Paul Smith presented the Mini Strip at the IAA motor show in Munich: a radically reduced, sustainable concept car. 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 new car has seen a classic Mini converted into an emission-free vehicle by installing a 72-kilowatt electric motor. The car has also been redesigned and painted in the same swatch as Smith’s previous 1998 model; a bright blue based on a swatch taken from one of Paul Smith’s favourite shirts.

The project is also about respecting heritage and timeless design – in particular, the 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.

The radically reduced and sustainable concept of the Mini Strip continues in the interior of the newly designed car. By deliberately leaving out trim parts, the bodyshell with its bare, unclad floor pan dominates the interior, with rustic floor mats made of recycled rubber on top. In addition to innovative, resource-saving materials, Paul Smith’s design leaves out entire instruments in other places: a magnet next to the steering wheel accommodates the smartphone, which, apart from the speedometer, replaces almost all the old buttons and functions on the dashboard. The steering wheel in his exclusive model can be completely removed to facilitate getting in and out of the car.

“We have made a 1990s car totally relevant for today,” Smith said. “Ideas are never the problem, you can find them everywhere. The challenge is to implement them. Here it worked. A dream has come true.”

For the purposes of exhibiting the unique design at the Salone del Mobile 2022 in Milan, the Paul Smith showroom will be designed in the striking colours of the Mini Recharged by Paul Smith. At the Salone del Mobile, visitors will have the opportunity to see the newly designed model as well as last year’s Mini Strip for themselves.