Hello my name is Paul Smith



Christmas day 2014, a very small present under the tree from my brother and sister. I opened the paper to find a small black envelope, inside this a pair of cufflinks with coloured stripes that could only be Paul Smith. My siblings knew that this present would mean more to me than most.


As a product designer by education and a UX designer by profession, London’s Design Museum provided some very exciting events last year. Alberto Alessi spoke about the work of himself and his family building and maintaining a product design empire, collaborations with Salvador Dali and all things Italian. Jony Ive shared his experiences at Apple and his thoughts and beliefs. I have pulled out some of his quotes here… I felt very lucky to attend both of them. Well done Design Museum!


In 2012, the Design Museum staged an experience starting with an exhibition on on the life of Christian Louboutin and his red soled shoes. I was led around the exhibition by the curator, Donna Loveday, who helped us to really understand where the designer had come from and the inspiration behind the designs. The next two days we visited footwear designers in London, getting a snapshot of the trade. A magnificent experience with a truly unique insight.


In 2013/2014 when I heard about the Paul Smith exhibition, and that Donna was the curator, I knew I was in for a treat.


The Design Museum has great exhibitions but the events surrounding them make the museum one of the best in the world. As a member I make the most of updates, free admission and discounts and go as often as I can.


I signed up to attend an evening talk about the “hello my name is Paul Smith” exhibition and expected a curator talk and an exhibition tour, similar to the Louboutin exhibition.


I arrived an hour early so that I could take a quick look around with a beer in hand. The gallery was set out to map Paul Smith’s life, from modest beginnings to international success. I stopped by a room set out with desks, with prints and designs all over the place, around screens and patterns.




A voice from the left muttered “very similar to the real office you know!” I turned to see a tall, slender man, animating his words with his gestures, with a warm, kind and energetic charisma. It was Paul Smith. He went on to show me, and a couple of others, how a vintage floral print was copied, sliced and rebuilt, offset to give a contemporary twist. The exhibition became alive!


Later that night Paul Smith himself talked about the exhibition. He presented in a very special way, relaxed and enthusiastic, spontaneous and personable. He asked the audience if they wanted to hear more (and talked for longer than planned) and even asked us all to cover our eyes as he checked the next slide! I came away seeing the brand as the extension of the person and a person who I very much admired. That night alone would have been my design museum highlight but there is more!


A couple of weeks later there was an opportunity to visit the Paul Smith design studio in London. The office was opened up to us on a working day. We met designers and pattern makers and visited different departments on each floor. The stairwell was covered with photo frames, gifts from fans of his work. Paul showed us his office, littered with inspiration! It was like an opening to his creative, energetic mind.


A fun and yet sophisticated man, and office full of staff that believe, in a brand that is true to that personality. Paul Smith the brand really is Paul Smith the person. He approves every design that goes out, and every part of the business sings from the same hymn sheet. He is optimistic and lives each day as if it is his best.


The “Hello, my name is Paul Smith” exhibition and all that went around it was the highlight of 2014. What will 2015 bring? This is the line up that I know of…


  • Women Fashion Power
  • Designs of the year
  • AXA PPP Health Tech and You
  • Life on foot
  • Bicycles
  • Designers in Residence
  • New international style

More information on Design Museum exhibitions here
I am really looking forward to the Health Tech one- This area is moving on so quickly but who knows what gems are ahead of us?! I will let you know this time next year!

Back to last year and Paul Smith, I will leave you with a quote, a note that Paul Smith left me when I visited his studio…



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1 Response

  1. James Lenoel says:

    Really interesting post – thanks for sharing your experiences.

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