On 18 August, Sir Paul Smith paid a special visit to Nottingham Castle. Discover what Paul got up to in our latest blog.

We were thrilled to welcome Sir Paul Smith, one of Britain’s leading designers, to home ground last Wednesday, when he spent a day at the Castle, giving guided tours of the “Hello, My Name is Paul Smith” exhibition to press and funders, meeting NTU fashion students and local Brownies, taking selfies with visitors and generally just spreading positivity!

Paul, looking very sharp in a stylish navy check suit and white shirt with his signature multi-stripe cuff, posed playfully with his iconic striped MINI and a one-off stripped-back electric MINI Cooper, built using materials including cork and recycled plastic, which is one of his latest design collaborations.

Paul Smith stands with two MINI cars in front of the collonade at the Ducal PalaceThe exhibition, while celebrating the career and global success of the brand, brilliantly demonstrates Paul’s endless curiosity and magpie-mind. Not just fascinated by design, Paul is an avid collector of ‘stuff’ which continually feeds his creativity. Paul, chatting to visitors and volunteers, provided fascinating insights into objects from his personal collection, such as a photo with his mum and dad, books, curiosities collected on his travels and artworks created by his wife, Pauline, who was a mentor in his early career. A recreation of his first shop in Byard Lane – one small, windowless room, (where the ‘shop manager’ was Paul’s Afghan hound, Homer!), sits alongside images including the Melrose Avenue store in Los Angeles, which has become the most Instagrammed building in LA. This illustrates how Paul’s energy and commitment have influenced the growth of the business, with Paul’s individual vision still at its heart.

With a career spanning more than 50 years, Paul was keen to share his experience and creativity with the designers of the future from NTU’s Art & Design school, and members of the 4th Chilwell Brownies. Prior to the workshops, the young people had been given a brief to present a creative idea or design for packaging, or a bag, using low impact or recycled materials for our new Castle shop, inspired by Paul’s iconic style. Each workshop offered ten young people the chance to present their design to Paul and receive individual guidance and advice.

“My top tip is to take it slow. Life is a joy. You don’t have to be rich and famous straight away. Take it easy, grow gently and you’ll have a lovely life” – Paul Smith

Paul Smith shows off a picture wall in the exhibition to a group of BrowniesAfter a fabulous day filled with Paul’s generosity and humour, he discussed his work and philosophy during a talk and Q&A, before the audience had a chance to meet the city icon and take home a signed copy of his book.

“Hello, My Name is Paul Smith” is on display at Nottingham Castle until 20 February 2022, and admission to the exhibition is included in your general admission ticket, which can be purchased here.