Paul Smith @ Design Museum


Minimalism is certainly not what the Design Museum had in mind when deciding how to stage their current Paul Smith exhibition. The opening gallery is covered from floor to ceiling with images from the designers personal collections and it is difficult to know where to look. That said, it entices us in and gives a vivacious first impression.

The show is not just concerned with Paul Smith’s fashion designs but introducing the audience to Paul Smith’s character. We see the designers humble beginnings in Nottingham, his dreams of being a cyclist, to runway shows in Paris. On display are other design collaborations from HP Sauce to Evian water bottles.

As a viewer, one gets a sense of what it must be like to work for the designer. Smith seems approachable, fun and personable. Even the title of the exhibition is amiable: ‘Hello, My Name is Paul Smith’, it is so humble that it could be a joke. His collection of artworks scream out hoarder; he is just like us. What you see is what you get. Often we have the idea that designers are clinical, clean, pristine and polished. Here we get a sense of the man who is inspired and influenced by everything. An idea of a cluttered studio is given, yet that is what makes Smith so very appealing, he doesn’t try to be something he is not, there are no efforts to conceal any aspects of human emotion.

Paul Smith is not pretentious. He does not try to be something that he is not. Smith is charismatic yet refined. He is clearly expressive but knows not to go past a certain point. The exhibition is superb and cannot be missed.

Hello, My Name is Paul Smith is on display at Design Museum until 9 March 2014

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Lizzy Vartanian Collier is a London-based writer with a special interest in contemporary Middle Eastern Art. She has a BA in Art History and an MA in Contemporary Art and Art Theory of Asia and Africa from the School of Oriental and African Studies. She runs the Gallery Girl blog and has written for After Nyne, Arteviste, Canvas Magazine, Harper's Bazaar Arabia, Ibraaz, Jdeed Magazine, ReOrient and Suitcase Magazine. Lizzy is also curator of Arab Women Artists Now - AWAN 2018 (London).

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