Life & Design

Paul Smith: 10 design secrets revealed

From his favorite fabrics to the garden design that inspires him, he fashion and interior expert reveals the inspirations behind his work

Paul Smith
(Image credit: Alamy)

Sir Paul Smith has built a worldwide reputation as Britain’s foremost fashion designer, with stores in Japan, Paris, Milan, New York and Hong Kong – to name but a few. 

See: Interior design tips – decorating secrets for the world's top experts

Alongside fashion design, Paul has climbed to the top of the interiors world, selling artwork and accessories from his gallery, his flagship store, and on his website

Wherever Paul goes – from the sun-glazed West Coast to rainy cobbles of London Town – he collects the inspirations that have contributed to making him the designer he is today. And, today, we can reveal them.

1. My design hero

Dieter Rams - Paul Smith's favorite designer

(Image credit: Charlie Deets/Unsplash)

'Dieter Rams is one designer I’m particularly passionate about, and I’m lucky enough to own many pieces of his work, including the radio and record player he designed for Braun.'

You can see Dieter Rams' work at the Design Museum, the record player at MoMa, and the radio below. 

Paul Smith favourite radio

(Image credit: Paul Smith)

2. My favorite architect

Camino Real Hotel in Mexico

(Image credit: Alamy)

'The work of Mexican architect Luis Barragán is endlessly inspiring for me. His style is a big inspiration for my pink shop in Los Angeles.' (above) 

3. One to watch

Joy Yamusangie at Paul Smith

(Image credit: Joy Yamusangie at Paul Smith)

‘We regularly feature the work of new makers in my Mayfair shop, most recently a collaboration with the young mixed media artist Joy Yamusangie on a series of vases.’

See Joy Yamusangie's work at Paul Smith.

4. My favorite fabric

Paul Smith's favorite fabrics with Maharam

(Image credit: Maharam/Paul Smith)

'I'm proud of the upholstery fabrics I recently designed with Maharam: Songbird (above left) and Wool Check (above right). They cover the furniture in my showroom.'

5. My favorite shop

The Conran Shop - Paul Smith's favorite shop

(Image credit: Unsplash/The BlowUp)

' I love The Conran Shop, not just for the furniture but the stationery and the inspiring range of products you find there.’

6. You may be surprised but...

‘I don’t use a computer and write everything on pieces of paper. The only websites I visit are newspapers on the iPad when I’m on holiday.’

7. I always carry...

‘I always carry a notepad and pen with me to write things down as they come to me. A camera is handy too; it captures the moment.’

See: Ben Pentreath: 10 design secrets revealed

8. My favorite place to visit

Japanese garden in park in London

(Image credit: Alamy)

‘I live near the Japanese Kyoto Garden in Holland Park and visit it as often as I can. The colors are fantastic all year round.'

9. My book

Paul Smith book

(Image credit: Paul Smith/Phaidon)

‘I decided to write my book to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Paul Smith. I chose the 50 design objects featured in it spontaneously to tell part of the story. The book also features stories supplied by friends I have worked with.'

You can buy Paul Smith now.

10. My favorite design object

'A design object that means a great deal to me is a toile on a miniature mannequin that my wife Pauline created for me. It is very delicate and has a special place in my busy office.'