The Paul Smith exhibition at The Design Museum London, should be an intriguing insight into the fascinating mind of one of britains best loved and longest standing designers. With items from Paul’s personal archive, it references his influences and his designs throughout his career to date.
If you didn’t watch the recent documentary about Sir Paul’s life and career, I would highly recommend it. It’s takes the viewer on a visual tour of his working life and environment and his hectic schedule which takes him all over the world. Paul Smith is still clearly a real person, with his feet firmly on the ground, unlike many of his contemporaries who have an entourage of staff catering to their every whim, and are often out of touch with the real world. He loves to meet all the people who buy his clothes and has an almost cult like following in Japan and the Far East, where hoards of fans rock up to his stores to meet the man and get him to autograph their purchases.
He gains inspiration from everything he sees and is a ferocious collector of books, art, toys, bikes and ephemera, with rare and unusual objects filling his office space and shops, many of these sent to him from all over the world by fans. He often displays these collections within his stores much as a museum curator would and takes numerous photos, constantly, for his daily instagram feed of anything that catches his eye,using them for future reference much in the same way as a note book.
When I was a student, studying Interior Design, we were asked, one day, by our lecturer to give an impromptu, 5 minute talk on our favourite designer. No research or prior knowledge, just off the cuff. Paul Smith instantly sprang to my mind for the way he updates classic designs with a witty twist, less is definitely more in his work and his advertising campaigns and his branding are instantly recognisable. Think of stripes and you think of Paul Smith.
He was also one of the first retailers back in the 1970’s to display clothes with interior objects and collectables and his use of a residential space rather than a retail space, in his Westbourne House store, has been much plagiarized and was the inspiration behind my final degree piece which focused on retail design.
His creative mind, energy, enthusiasm and knowledge of design is boundless. He is truly a national treasure and this exhibition is justly deserved.