London, United Kingdom
Paul Smith and Oliver Heilmer, head of the Mini Design department, work together and recreate the 1998 Paul Smith Mini in an electric edition, the 2022 Mini Recharged edition.
Paul Smith’s relation with Mini goes back to 1998, when he designed a limited edition of 1,800 vehicles, adding pinstripes to the original Sir Alec Issigonis-designed Mini.
This new take on the 1998 Mini incorporates colors, materials, and trim that reflect a truly sustainable approach.
Smith describes the car as a combination of “quality, sustainability, and functionality,” and it’s easy to be seduced by this stripped-back version of one of the most enduring designs of all time.
Orange seatbelts, a yellow dashboard shelf, and a lime-green battery box are some of the colorful elements of the new Mini.
Mini Recharged’s interior is finished in a bright blue color originally inspired by one of the designer’s favorite shirts.
Original Mini designer Sir Alec Issigonis used a pioneering engine layout to maximize space; 80 percent of the car’s volume was devoted to passengers and luggage.
At 3.05m long, a classic Mini is slightly bigger than a contemporary Smart car, yet could seat five.
Swapping out the original engine for electric motors and a battery pack was a substantial operation.
New Mini partner Recharged Heritage Limited, a small company based in Lancashire, was responsible for the engineering, installing a 72-kilowatt electric motor to turn the car into a zero-emissions machine.
Changes are subtle but striking. ‘When you move into your old aunt’s flat, out of respect you don’t change everything, but you do some modernizing,” says Smith, and his interior changes reflect this ethos.
“Ideas are never the problem, you can find them everywhere,” says Smith.
“The challenge is to implement them. Here it worked. A dream has come true… We have made a 1990s car totally relevant for today.”
The new Mini Recharged was presented at the 2022 Milan Design Week.
Project: Paul Smith x Mini Recharged
Designers: Paul Smith, and Oliver Heilmer
Manufacturer: BMW AG
Photographers: BMW AG