By Namu Ju
SMEG was founded by Vittorio Bertazzoni and is one of the world’s leading home appliance manufacturers. The Bertazzoni family has a long history of craftsmanship beginning as blacksmiths in northern Italy back in the 19th century.
SMEG has always been ahead of the game, launching one of the first automatic gas cookers in the 1950s and the world’s first 14 place-setting dishwasher in 1970.
Beyond utility, SMEG has kept both home and professional kitchens in style by developing appliances in partnership with internationally renowned architects and designers. They expanded from their beginnings in the home appliance sector to produce instruments for restaurants and healthcare settings. So having established the prestige branding of SMEG, we come to the important question: can a 4-slice toaster really be worth $850 USD?
Granted, the $850 4-slice toaster is a special edition toaster created in collaboration with Dolce & Gabbana for SMEG’s Sicily Is My Love collection. The cheapest SMEG toasters are ’50s style 2-slice standards priced around $150. These 2-slice toasters are made of stainless steel with illuminated control knobs, backlit buttons, and six toasting levels. Considering these prices are gathered from Williams Sonoma, we took a look around Williams Sonoma’s website to find highly-rated and reliable toasters for a third of the price of SMEG’s 2-slicers.
SMEG electric kettles of similar styles and colours run around the same price as SMEG toasters. Cuisinart also has a highly-rated electric kettle for less than half the price of SMEG electric kettles, and KitchenAid has one for even cheaper.
SMEG stand mixers have a wider price range, starting from $300 to $1,500 for designer brands. The price of SMEG stand mixers are comparable to the iconic KitchenAid stand mixers, though KitchenAid does offer a ‘mini’ version for $200.
For Coffee Lovers
For coffee aficionados, SMEG’s espresso machines are made of high-calibre stainless steel and chrome. Beginning at just under $500 USD, these powerful machines come with an adjustable cappuccino system, temperature control, and can even adjust for water hardness. It’s not difficult, however, to find comparable machines for less than a third of the price.
SMEG recently released a line of drip filter coffee machines beginning at $200 each. SMEG drip coffee machines come with a 10-cup capacity, 4-cup function, aroma intensity function, adjustability for water hardness and automatic start. However, these drip coffee makers have some poor reviews floating around the internet, and reviewers seem to agree that the best part of SMEG’s drip coffee machines is the classic SMEG design.
SMEG also newly released a line of milk frothers that have seven functions available, including hot chocolate, hot milk, and light and thick froths that come both hot and cold. Breville has their own milk frother for $80 cheaper than SMEG’s $200 milk frother, though Breville’s can’t boast as many frothing options.
When it comes down to it, SMEG small appliances aren’t worth the bucks when appliances of cheaper brands can do the same, sometimes even more. Solid, everyday functionality doesn’t have to come at SMEG’s price tag, and if I buy a toaster for over $100, it better be able to save my life.
But SMEG prices aren’t about everyday functionality. SMEG is about designer luxury integrated into everyday life. While SMEG’s blenders might not be worth the money when looking for a good blender, who can find a comparable option to SMEG’s Refrigerator of Art? In collaboration with Dolce & Gabbana, SMEG isn’t merely selling a refrigerator—SMEG is offering detailed creativity, luxury art of the past and present, and Italian high fashion.
The SMEG x Dolce & Gabbana collaboration can be easily written off as designer appliances for people who don’t know what to do with all their money (which is, in my opinion, a fair argument), but the main thing Sicily Is My Love offers to its consumers is a homage to Italian culture. Toasters, juicers, and coffee machines are all decorated with gold lemons, red cherries, citrus fruits, and prickly pears in the traditional Sicilian decorative style crocchi. The appliances are beautiful displays of delicate floral motifs reminiscent of the coasts and landscapes of southern Italy, images of Mt. Etna, as well as the Greek temple ruins of Castor and Pollux.
So the question of whether SMEG products are worth their price tag is like asking if the 1859 Sicilian Error of Colour stamp is really worth $2 million USD. Its depends on whom you are asking.
For someone like me, who doesn’t know or care about stamps beyond their functional use, a stamp is a stamp is a stamp. For another, it’s not so much about the stamp as it is about the history and art behind it. Similarly, SMEG isn’t selling functionality—SMEG is selling an integration of art and culture into everyday life, and for some, that really might be worth all those extra zeroes.