Fashion designer Paul Smith strips down Mini Cooper SE to the bare essentials, uses many recycled, environment-friendly materials.

The Mini Strip is a custom-made one-off Cooper SE created by fashion designer Paul Smith with a focus on sustainable design. First announced in November 2020, the unique car debuted last week in London proposing several ideas for more sustainable automotive design.

As the name suggests, the design team began by completely stripping down a three-door Mini Cooper SE, with only those elements that the designer viewed as absolutely necessary being then defined, implemented, and put in place.

So what exactly has Paul Smith’s team done to the car? The principle of maximum reduction was applied to produce a “minimalist, high-class design with a fresh and unconventional appeal.

For starters, the Mini Strip’s body was left in its unfinished state with no colored paint applied; instead, just a thin film of transparent paint was added to protect against corrosion. Grinding marks from the factory have been left intact on the galvanized steel panels, with this intentional rough-hewn effect dubbed “the perfect imperfection” by Paul Smith.

The concept also features 3D-printed recycled plastic for sections of the familiar Mini black band, visible screws in the add-on parts, 3D-printed front and rear apron inserts with a striking texture, as well as blanked-off radiator grille and aero wheel covers made from recycled Perspex. The same material was used for the large panoramic roof.

Gallery: Mini Strip Concept by Paul Smith

Inside, the Mini Strip also stays true to the motto of “Simplicity and Transparency,” courtesy of some radical stripping-back. All trim parts have been intentionally omitted (with the exception of the dashboard, topper pad and parcel shelf), turning the body shell into the the cabin’s dominant visual feature.

Painted blue at the request of Paul Smith, the exposed basic material certainly catches the eye. The dash consists only of a large, semi-transparent section with a smoked-glass finish, ditching the usual multi-part design.

The center instrument panel is also gone, replaced by the driver’s smartphone. The only physical controls are for the power windows and the start/stop function located lower down in the center stack.

The Mini Strip also makes use of recycled materials such as knitted fabric for the seats, recycled rubber with terrazzo-like pattern for the floor mats, and recycled cork for the dashboard topper pad, door shoulders, and parcel shelf.

The minimalist steering wheel is another striking detail; its rim is wrapped in handlebar tape and a mesh covering the center makes it possible to see the airbag behind. The bright orange pull handles in the door shoulders are made from wound climbing rope, matching the seat belts.

Mini did not say if it plans to implement any of these ideas into Cooper SE production. It would have been interesting to learn how much weight was saved in the process, but that hasn’t been disclosed either.

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