British carmaker Mini and fashion designer Paul Smith teamed up again to make a one-off car called the Mini Strip. The name doesn’t refer to anything bawdy, even though it’s immediately where my mind went. It’s about stripping down in an eco-friendly way by paring design and production all the way back to the bare essentials.
The Mini Strip is based on a three-door Mini Cooper SE, which was reduced to it’s chassis and rebuilt with sustainability and reusability in mind. Mini isn’t messing around here, it even stripped the paint!
The carmaker says that it left fasteners bare so that drivers can see how easy it would be dismantle and reuse the material. I think that would jive well with the right-to-repair crowd, too. When Mini and Smith rebuilt the car, they passed on the colored paint finish and and applied transparent paint to protect the chassis from corrosion, and highlight the “unfinished state.” I think that’s a misnomer.
This Mini is finished, but in another sense of the word, both outside and in. The difference is most noticeable inside the car, where the car goes in a completely separate direction than its production siblings. Cork replaces the usual plastic on the dash, and where plastics are still used, they’ve been 3D-printed. Knitted fabric replaces leather in the seats, among a bunch of other eco-friendly replacements.
The coolest part is what they’ve done with the center console. The Mini Strip gets rid of the busy center stack and instead let’s the driver’s smartphone be the main attraction, according to the carmaker:
There is no classical centre instrument, leaving the driver’s smartphone to take centre stage instead. It is placed where the centre display would normally be, connects automatically to the car and, in so doing, becomes the media control centre. The only physical controls in the interior are located lower down in the centre stack, where the toggle switches for the power windows and the start/stop function can be found.
And they get bonus points from me for putting all the controls in the center.
Of course, we’ve seen things like this many times. Carmakers love to brag about sustainability practices and their use of recycled materials, but I like this because it doesn’t slap a few “green” bits here and there. It actually reimagines both the interior and exterior of the car.