Especially in a country like Japan, people wait patiently for something they’re passionate about, like a pop-up anime cafe or a Michelin-starred ramen restaurant. At 11am on a sunny Saturday, you’ll notice a long line waiting for the doors to open at Ba-Tsu, a trendy art gallery in Omotesando’s fashion district. Neither the anime nor the noodles were equally popular with Japanese audiences.
ever since miniMaking its first steps in Japan in 2002, the manufacturer has established a strong local presence as it gathers a loyal audience around a small British car. For six years in a row, the BMW MINI is the best-selling new foreign car in Japan, far ahead of Mercedes-Benz and his BMW models. MINI Japan’s customer base joins Paul Smith’s strong Japanese clientele, and there’s no better place than Japan to showcase his two MINI x Paul Smith concept cars, the MINI Strip and his MINI Recharged, exclusively. was. With an exhibition space and cafe area on the second floor, there was so much to do and see in this week-long pop-up of his.
Two Concept Cars for the Times
While the MINI Recharged and MINI Strip may seem different at first glance, the two concept cars have a lot in common, aside from the obvious fact that they use the classic Mini as their base. Both former internal combustion engine MINIs, now converted to electric vehicles, highlight the current electrification of the automotive industry and the steps manufacturers are taking to offer more environmentally friendly products. The materials used in both cars are not only recycled, but can also be reused if the car is torn apart. In pieces. The two concepts MINI are also reflected in the brand’s “Big Love” project. A series of events, projects and collaborations to create something more positive for both people and the planet.
All about MINI Recharged
The act of upcycling isn’t limited to clothing, it’s equally important with cars, as MINI Recharged showcases here. This Classic Mini used here is Sir Paul Smith’s own 1998 Paul Smith His Edition Mini. The car is now equipped with a 72 kW electric motor with a charging port painted by Paul Smith himself with a lightning bolt. The interior is minimal but retains the original center dial. To make it more modern and practical, we also added a metal and magnetic smartphone holder.
Created by Alec Issigonis in response to the 1959 oil crisis, the Classic Mini provided a means of transportation that offered maximum space with minimum fuel usage. Just as today’s classic models have been ‘recharged’ and reborn into equally energy-efficient vehicles, the reborn and upcycled MINI is sustainable, functional and as relevant as ever. I have.
It’s also worth noting that this upcycling is not limited to the MINI x Paul Smith collaboration. That’s because MINI’s Recharged Program lets you upcycle your very own classic Mini sitting in your garage.
All about the MINI Strip
As its name suggests, the MINI Strip shows bare exteriors and interiors with an overall rough finish, but it has to do more than just a simple aesthetic choice. The metallic, unfinished steel body has deliberate factory polish marks and is covered with a thin layer of protective lacquer to prevent corrosion. Inside, the MINI is almost unrecognizable. Simplified by stripping away everything normally found in his average MINI, the car retains the circular center console. However, instead of the usual infotainment screen, you can place your smartphone thanks to the adjustable grips.To save weight, the inside panels of the doors are covered with a thin mesh. The materials used in the strip are from recycled sources and are also recyclable. For example, 3D printed panels such as the front and rear bumpers are made from recycled plastic, while the clear roof is made from recycled acrylic glass. Overall, as Sir Paul Smith points out, the MINI Strip emphasizes the idea of ’less is more’. It’s not just about functionality, it’s also about highlighting what looks unfamiliar or imperfect, and proving that such things can be likable and comfortable.
Paul Smith signature
Both the Strip and Recharged are EVs born in collaboration between the MINI team, led by Chief Designer Oliver Heilmer, and Sir Paul Smith himself. With the creative direction of Paul Smith, both cars are packed with quirky and fun details that are reminiscent of the fashion brand. The MINI Recharged shows his two staple colors in Paul Smith’s fashion glossary. The battery, for example, has yellow-green details signed by Paul Smith himself in markers. Then there’s the bright orange color that’s especially noticeable on the seat belts. The MINI Strip also shares the same lime green and orange colors, with a green charging port and a similar orange seat belt when the flap is opened. The car uses a variety of fabrics inside, with the steering wheel wrapped in cotton and the seats upholstered in a wool-like material. As an even more fun touch, you can find Paul’s Smith clothing label attached to his steering wheel on the MINI Strip.
Then there’s the slightly purplish blue MINI Recharged paint. For this, Paul Smith took inspiration from one of his own creations, his Blue Paul Smith shirt. The shirt has slightly discolored since then, but a small square cut can be seen at the bottom of the shirt.
cork and other reusable materials
If you analyze the components of both concept cars, you’ll notice the use of cork, among other materials. The dashboard and door panels of the MINI Strip are covered with cork. As Sir Paul Smith explains, cork was once a commonly used material, but due to lack of fashion, we see it very rarely these days. In addition to being sustainable and recyclable, cork has many practical uses, such as enhancing acoustics and insulating your car. It is also easy to bond with heat, eliminating the need for environmentally harmful adhesives.
Another interesting detail worth noting is the inner door handle of the MINI Strip, which uses repurposed climbing ropes. Besides adding a unique style element to your cabin, these handles are reversible and can be easily reused as ropes. Materials like this testify to the deceptively simple yet innovative vision that goes into the process of creating these concept cars.
british game made in heaven
There’s no doubt about it; the MINI x Paul Smith collaboration is more than just an ideal duo, it’s two well-known British collaborations. Sir Paul Smith and his MINI team, led by Mr. Heilmer, are in agreement on design and ideas and what sustainability really means, especially in an industry often blamed for its environmental impact. are being considered more deeply. In the automotive industry, the reality is, as Heilmer puts it, “recycled products are rarely used.” […] This is because there are technical challenges involved. But with the creative thinking behind the MINI Strip and MINI Recharged, it’s very refreshing to see a seemingly simple yet practical solution to a real problem by utilizing what already exists.