Paul Smith exhibition – Design Museum, London

20140122_125739[1]The Paul Smith exhibition is packed full of the man, his ideas, influences and artefacts. It runs only until 9 March 2014.

He is an inveterate collector of prints, a selection of which greet the visitor on arrival (see left). I tried to establish a theme for the prints; it is an eclectic mix. Bicycles are very much part of his life as is Patti Smith (unrelated). Colour (even a photo of post-it notes make it), music (particularly the Beatles and David Bowie), dogs (his wolf hound was a feature of his first shop), travel and romance (his wife, Pauline, is consistently credited).  His camera goes everywhere with him. His favourite places are street markets.

Visitors are invited into a mock up of his office (right). Cluttered it might be, but he keeps a rosewood table free for work.20140122_130509[1]

There is also a studio space filled with materials – fabrics – and patterns for suits and dresses (below left). Much more ordered than the office and with a selection of Mac computers, clearly his favoured brand.


I am not personally convinced by his clothes – one gallery is dedicated to his clothes. He is more than a tailor. The trademark stripes have been applied to a number of familiar objects such as the mini (below right) and a teapot (Thomas Goode fine bone china, below left). He also designed the case beautiful for a limited edition Leica digital camera. Finally, to cement his British credentials, he put the stripes on to the label for HP sauce for Harrods.


Naturally, this exhibition is a huge marketing exercise for Paul Smith. There is a small gallery devoted to his shops. Each one is different. This potentially has the effect of turning them into tourist destinations in their own right. Unfortunately, one could clock up a huge carbon footprint visiting them. Destinations would include Tokyo, New York and Nottingham, to name but three.

20140122_132258[1]Elsewhere, there is a wonderfully produced and presented HD film of one of his Paris menswear catwalk shows. He says that he does not like shows but they are a necessary part of the business. The media and industry buyers use them. Watching the film, one gets the impression that he makes the best out of it.

The artefacts are beautiful and worthy of exhibiting. However, visitors also get insights into creativity and the business of creativity. I will iron my partner’s Paul Smith blouse now with a little more care.

The photographs are all mine. Apologies for the poor quality. I was not able to use my camera because I had not charged it! I had to use my phone. The results are not so good.

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