Latest News – Hello, My Name Is Paul Smith, Design Museum
Seen by many as a living, breathing embodiment of what British design is all about, it seems long overdue that Sir Paul (as he’s been known since 2000) has his very own retrospective at The Design Museum at Shad Thames. We headed over last Friday to see what more we could find out about this quirky design demigod.
Upon entering the exhibition space, we were greeted by hundreds of images of not only Smith’s work but also his inspirations – ranging from drawings and notes to magazine spreads and photos taken by Smith throughout his career. Covering the walls from floor to ceiling and stretching far down the length of the room – this entrance space acts as a real assault on the senses, the sheer size and vibrancy of this space highlighting a career that is as long as it is varied.
The exhibition invites the visitor right into the centre of the design process, providing mock-ups of studios and offices, as well as providing spaces that act as a representation of the designer’s mind. Curators have reconstructed the interiors of seminal spaces, such as his first Nottingham shop (opened 40 years ago), the Parisian hotel room where he held his first fashion showcase, as well as his personal office and studio spaces. Brilliantly chaotic in its (dis)organisation, the latter two rooms are filled to the brim with unusual objects and paraphernalia that Smith has amassed over his years in the industry, including Warhols, Hockneys and all manner of eccentric prints making several appearances throughout too.
After marvelling at the detail of these mock-ups, we got a glimpse of the ‘Collaboration’ space, where Smith’s famed collaborations with leading British and international brands were documented. Smith isn’t just a fashion designer – he’s worked on a huge breadth of products, ranging from David Bowie vinyls to tennis rackets, Mini cars, and even teapots for Thomas Goode. A diverse range of products, united by his signature playful approach to colour and pattern.
The ‘Collaboration’ space and the mock-up rooms illustrated how Smith is inspired by the entire world around him. However, it is fashion that he’s best known for, and it is the fashion that’s at the heart of this exhibition. We were guided down an illuminated corridor that served as a runway of sorts for Smith’s designs, dating back to the start of his career, which then transitioned into a darkened room where an immersive film – ‘A day in the life of a fashion show’ showcased the sheer enormity of scale for a Parisian catwalk show.
With ‘Hello, My Name Is Paul Smith’, the visitor is given a unique and highly personal insight into one of the giants of British design. After attending the exhibition, it felt like Smith had been in the room with us the whole time, guiding us round with his wife Pauline (to whom the exhibition is dedicated to, almost like a love letter!) Whilst some designers can often seem distant and hard to reach, this exhibition reveals the personal pleasures and inspirations of a Nottingham boy, who, even after 40 years in the industry, still gets giddy about modern design and mischievous uses of colour.
We don’t doubt for a second that Sir Paul will still be surprising us all for many years to come.
‘Hello, My Name Is Paul Smith’ is open until June 22nd 2014.