"My company motto is 'Never Assume' and that has helped me so much. Basically it means check it out. Don’t think the DHL parcel is coming in: track it. Don’t presume that will be ready on time: ring three days in advance. I promise you, those simple words have saved me many, many hours. 'You can find inspiration in everything and if you can’t, you’re not looking properly' means looking and seeing. Because a lot of people look but they don’t see. Most of us spend too much time looking at a screen these days; our eyes are being used in a different way. It's all about balance – you've got to have a proper look and then you really can find inspiration in everything."
Nottingham-raised Paul Smith began his career as a designer by accident, literally. After recovering from a cycling crash that left him bed-bound for three months, he went to the pub to meet one of his fellow patients and was introduced to a group of students deep in conversation about Pop Art, Warhol, Kandinsky and Bauhaus, opening Smith's mind up to a world of art, design and creativity he'd previously known nothing about. By setting up his first shop – one of the first UK retailers to import Levi 501s – Smith quickly created a name for himself and his brand. At the same time as building his brand, he was a freelance stylist working for The Face and making clothes for iconic legends such as Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and David Bowie. Self-taught throughout his life, Smith uses inspiration on a deeper level than most, citing the American lateral thinker Eduard De Bono as one of his earliest influences, in particular his line "the job always changes you and you never change the job’.
Paul Smith was talking at the Here Symposium organised by It's Nice That.
Text by Emma Sutton