The Paul Smith exhibition at the Design Museum has been running for a while and will be on till June. As retrospectives of the work of designers go its good but the balance is a bit process heavy.
The entrance is through a minimalist reconstruction of Smith’s first shop. Following the exhibition round clockwise we pass a recreation of part of Smith’s office, through an instillation of Smith talking about his work, then a room about process, in to a space full of Smith’s none fashion work, on to a display of some of Smith’s shops, through an array of Smith’s fashion designs and in to a room where screens show a film about putting on a fashion show. In the middle of this rotation a space is given over to display a huge number of pictures Smith has collected or been sent.
The office and the room about process have the problem of all recreated spaces – they can feel created rather than recreated. Despite that they convey something essential about Smith’s process. They succeed in avoiding turning process in to explaining how sausages are made. We get something of the rationale of his design process and how important his wife is to his work.
The obvious danger would be that the space given to none fashion work could have been unbalanced. Its not. Personally I’d have given more space to the core of Smith’s work in fashion. There is virtually nothing in the exhibition before 2000. It would have been nice to have seen a space given over to the development of Smith’s style from the ’70s to the presence. I’d have happily sacrificed the audio installation and half the space given oven to pictures for that.
Overall a good exhibition although a little light on Smith’s core work.