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August 16, 2021

The MINI Strip Reduces A Car To Its Bare Essentials

MINI, together with designer Paul Smith have envisioned what a car would be if were engineered around sustainability. The result is the MINI Strip Concept.

Guided by the overarching theme of ‘Simplicity, Transparency, Sustainability’, the car showcases ideas for potential ways to increase sustainability in automotive design.

As the name suggests, the process began by completely stripping down a three-door MINI Cooper SE and reducing it to its structural essence. For example, the body was left in its unfinished state with no colored paint applied. Instead, it gets a thin film of transparent paint to protect against corrosion.

Grinding marks from the factory have been consciously left intact on the galvanized steel panels to clearly identify the car as a functional object and robust companion for everyday life. This intentionally rough-hewn effect was also dubbed “the perfect imperfection” by Paul Smith.

Sections of the familiar MINI black band are 3D-printed from recycled plastic, and their basic material qualities have been left exposed, like the metal panels while recycled Perspex was used on the large panoramic sunroof.

Inside, most trim parts have been removed turning the body shell into a dominant feature of the cabin. Instead of the usual multi-part dash design, the Strip’s dashboard consists of a large semitransparent section with a smoked-glass finish.

Also, there is no classical center instrument, leaving the driver’s smartphone to take center stage instead. It is placed where the center display would normally be, connects automatically to the car and, in so doing, becomes the media control center. The only physical controls in the interior are located lower down in the center stack, where the toggle switches for the power windows and the start/stop function can be found.

The interior is completely free of both leather and chrome, with seats upholstered in a knitted fabric. The completely mono-material design for the seat coverings means they are fully recyclable, including the piping, allowing material circularity to be maintained.

The floor mats are made from recycled rubber while the dashboard topper pad, door shoulders, and parcel shelf are all made from recycled cork. MINI says that with its pleasing firmness combined with a soft feel, cork could provide a substitute for foamed plastics in future.

The steering wheel, another focal point of the interior, has been reduced to the most essential functions. Its rim has been wrapped in handlebar tape in true road bike style. Three aluminum spokes connect the rim to the steering wheel’s impact absorber, whose mesh covering makes it possible to see the airbag behind it.

For now, MINI has no plans to produce the Strip, but it remains a showcase of how car manufacturing can be made more sustainable while incorporating ingenious design details that don’t cut back on design.

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