/ Home & Energy, Shopping

Smeg and Dolce & Gabbana: how important is the look of a product?


The way something looks doesn’t influence the test scores, but how important is the appearance to you when it comes to buying a product?

The Italian appliance manufacturer Smeg has announced that it is collaborating with the iconic Italian fashion brand Dolce & Gabbana to produce a range of small kitchen appliances.

But is the look of a product enough to persuade you to buy it?

Brand collaborations

The wild and vibrant Dolce & Gabbana prints and motifs have been designed for Smeg’s 50’s Retro Style range. The flair added by Dolce & Gabbana to these already fairly stylish products results in a beguiling collection of appliances that would be sure to brighten any kitchen.

We’ve tested most of the Smeg 50’s Retro Style range, including the KLF01 kettle and the TSF01 toaster. Some of the Smeg small kitchen appliances do well in our testing (the top scoring appliance earned a 77%, making it a Best Buy in its category). While some of the range performs less well at their primary function than their competitors (our lowest scoring Smeg appliance in this range has a test score of 50%).

But if you’re like me, you might sometimes choose form over function despite the knowledge that you might be paying more for a product that doesn’t work as well. For those of you interested in these products, they’re expected to be on sale by the end of the year.

Impressive technology

If a product features a new, impressive technology you may be swayed into buying the product because of the novelty it offers.

Dyson introduced its pioneering bladeless technology into a range of products and appliances. They offer heaters, fans, air purifiers and even a hairdryer that have no moving parts.

However, you pay a premium for a Dyson bladeless product as they’re generally more expensive than their rivals. The Dyson Supersonic hair dryer, for example, is about £300, which is 11 times more expensive than one of our Best Buys.

Are looks important?

There can be many reasons that you might choose to ignore sense and buy something based on looks.

It may be that you’re trying to match your appliances to the overall look of a room. You might be interested in a new technology (for example Dyson’s bladeless technology). Or, as is the case with me and the Smeg/Dolce & Gabbana range, you might simply be charmed by the look of the product.

Is style important to you when buying a product?

Sometimes - it depends on the product (71%, 430 Votes)

Never - it doesn't matter to me (20%, 120 Votes)

Always - style is important (9%, 53 Votes)

Total Voters: 603

Loading ... Loading ...

So tell us, do you ever opt to buy a product based on its looks?


I think it is more important to buy products that work well and will last a long time.

Although it depends on the product, looks and durability can be equally important.

Needing a new kettle recently, it took several trips to the shops to find what I wanted. The first thing to strike you about kettles, is how ugly most of them look. Living in a hard water area, means kettles have a relatively short life-span, so not worth spending mega-money on them, then you also consider their size then any plastic inside that is probably what is behind smelly kettles, and there is very little to choose from. As a kettle gets used several times a day, and it is permanently on show, you have to like how it looks, so yes, looks are important in this case.

I love the looks of these new Smeg/Dolce & Gabbana products. I have a cupboard full of small appliances that once looked new but now have an aged dirty cream look. Trouble is, they still work so I cannot justify replacing them. What would I rather use, my old aged cream food processor or one of these bright colourful ones?

This comment was removed at the request of the user

The Brits have brains duncan – at least the vast majority – so marketing armaggedon is unlikely to happen in my humble opinion.

I put utility before style. My cars are testimony to that, as my family remind me – practical and sensible over looks. Having chosen a car I then did look at the styling options, partly for my benefit but also with an eye on the practicality of resale appeal. I look at some of the revolting styling of some models (in my eyes) and wonder why on earth some are attracted by muscular bodywork with exaggerated plastic bulges. The fact is others have different priorities and probably have a less serious approach to life than me – and perhaps more disposable cash.

However, if I am buying a present for someone I would pay greater attention to style as well as function and alter the compromise a little between function, durability and looks and these appliances have the sort of fun look that might appeal.

I regard Dyson products as heavily overpriced, as witness by the personal wealth accumulated, and see no point at spending £300 on a hair drier that does little more – if anything – than a regular model, whether for me or anyone else.

Malcolm said: The Brits have brains duncan – at least the vast majority. Nice to see an optimist around.


Now that would be a meaty subject. The strength of mega-corporations over society has increased dramatically in the last decade and governments are slowly becoming aware of the need for control.

Arguably consumers would be better served by consumer bodies being more involved in this arena rather than the relative importance of design.

However on Manette’s Conversation article.

The 77% score is for a Best Buy toaster. There are several brands that score better but perhaps significantly the reviews from subscribers give it a one star as the wires burnt out. Another case of short-term testing being shown up.

As it has seven SMEG toasters [different colours] in the top 39 Best Buys one would have to read all seven to see all the comments. A rather foolish way of displaying subscriber reviews as the colour is immaterial to the failed functionality. One wonders how Which? do not have words with the testing company and also review the Best Buy tag. Of three reviews three one star scores – but given the number they experienced faults with – eight – you might think a fairly useful sample.

I have been a critic of Which? toaster testing as it is flawed, and invariably never mentions toasters were you have replacement parts available.

We prefer simpler styling on domestic appliances, mostly in the Northern European and Scandinavian taste, so would probably not select the models pictured. The actual designs [shapes, functionality] look good, however, especially the kettle, so if they are available in plain colours we would probably consider them if a replacement for our existing apparatus was required [subject to price]. The mixer reminded me of those coloured patterned wellies that some people wear so it would probably appeal to them, and you only have to look inside any ‘homemaking’ magazine to see the desire of people to follow the latest trend and to show off their statement equipment. If we had a Romany caravan or a traditional canal barge wired into the mains I think these pieces would be ideal. I think they will also find favour in the Asian market where colour and floral patterns are popular.

in household items eg washing machine to toaster function comes first ie does it do the work it says it will and to the level it says it will. design then takes over and the item should be easy and simple to use.

Years ago I was given a set of six rather jolly canalware mugs, hand painted with stylised roses. I now have four of them and two plain blue ones that had accidentally been put in the dishwasher. 🙁 I’m not sure that I could cope with something as large as a coffee-maker or food processor that were gaily painted.

What concerns me more is the name ‘Smeg’. The nickname for Mycobacterium smegmatis is ‘smeg’. It is related to those bacteria that cause TB and leprosy, and is found in genital secretions. Sometimes it is best not to know about science.

Your second para says why we have never considered Smeg appliances when things called Neff or Bosch are available. Many product names evolved from their inventor’s or manufacturer’s, so is (was) there a Mr Smeg?

From the Smeg UK website:
SMEG was founded by Vittorio Bertazzoni from Guastalla, a town near Reggio Emilia in northern Italy, and is today one of the world’s leading home appliance manufacturers. The Bertazzoni family’s entrepreneurial history began way back in the 19th century. Starting out as blacksmiths, the Bertazzonis soon branched out into metal enamelling. The very first Bertazzoni cookers were put on show at the World Expo held in Milan in 1906.In 1948, in an era of economic growth and rapid urbanisation, Smeg was established as an enamelling plant working with metals. Today, the acronym of Smeg (Smalterie Metallurgiche Emiliane Guastalla) continues to serve as a memory of the initial activity carried out by the company.

Perhaps the livery of the new Smeg products is proper enamel, as befits their heritage.

Thank you for that background information, Wavechange.

The outer surface of SMEG products always looks good quality; whether it is vitreous enamel I don’t know – modern three-pack paint treatments have been developed to give a surface coating that will last as long as the likely life-cycle of the appliance.

I tend to think the best refrigerators and air conditioners are more likely to come from hot countries.

The look of the product is very important to me, but it’s functionality and durability is also very important too.

In her introduction, Manette wrote: “The way something looks doesn’t influence the test scores, but how important is the appearance to you when it comes to buying a product?”

I would love to find out how thorough Which? tests are, and hopefully be reassured, as I have been when further information has been forthcoming on Which? Conversation.

It would not be difficult to publish detailed specifications for current tests carried out on household products. Most people might not be interested but a sizeable minority of Which? subscribers would be. I can see why some aspects of the work of Which? are not disclosed, but I can see no valid reason for not publishing full details of how washing machines etc. are tested.

Hi Manette – Thank you for your comments.

I’m familiar with the information provided about tests including the one about washing machines, and that’s both helpful and at a level that will be comprehensible to all users. What I am looking for is more detail in tests of individual products.

Which? has reported that modern washing machines often wash at temperatures well below the temperature settings shown on the machine. That does not seem to have been followed up in reports on individual machines. It might not affect the washing performance but low temperature washing can mean very long cycles and accumulation of a slime containing bacteria on the inside of the machine.

Which? has reported that many washing machines contain integrated assemblies such as sealed tanks and sealed doors. Bearing failure on a machine with a sealed tank is unlikely to be economically repairable and a sealed door will require replacement of the whole door if anything goes wrong. Some of the ‘regulars’ on Which? Convo would love to have some assessment of repairability of washing machines and other appliances.

I’m not sure if Which? reports which machines are hot & cold fill, which is useful information to those who have solar water heating, even if it is not important for the rest of us.

I bought a washing machine that has an option to use extra water, but this option is only on some programmes. Had I known, I might have looked for a different model.

For washing coloured fabrics I use gel capsules containing a pre-measured amount of laundry detergent. Sometimes they quickly get trapped in the door seal and continue to release detergent during rinses, so that I need to put the machine on again. It does not happen every time but it is annoying when it does.

I’ll bet that the Which? tests collect a great deal of information that we never get to see, but perhaps it could be put on the website for those who are looking for more detail.

That’s intended to be constructive criticism – honestly. 🙂

Well made points wavechange.

The point about dual-fill is well-made as with 391 washing machines listed there is no filter to find the dual-fill models of Which I suspect there are only 20. Seems faintly insulting you can have a filter for pink machines but not one for a more practical use.

I did recommend strongly to Which? testing team at the last AGM this needed to be fixed. It is interesting to see that after six months a green electricity saving item has not been added. And before anyone quibbles about solar heated water and electricity saving I suggest you read a Miele manual which provides the figures.

Which? has no complaints procedure. In the last century it was suggested there should be a Members’ Ombudsman .

” Energy use: During each of the three cycles, we measure how much water and energy the machine uses, what temperature the machine gets up to and how long the main and rinse programs take. We do this on the 40°C cotton setting, the one most commonly used.”

Why do Which? not report on the accuracy of the claimed temperature? The German testing body have found machines that are over 30% off from claimed washing temperatures. For people where hygienic cleanliness is far more important than optical cleanliness where can this information be obtained other than through a consumer body. And this consumer body measures but does not report it !!??!

Hot & cold fill machines may not use hot water on lower temperature programmes. My very old machine only took in cold water on a 40°C wash and took in both hot and cold water on a 60°C wash. I don’t know about modern computer-controlled machines but it’s certainly something worth investigating if you do have free hot water. Details of how individual machines handle hot water could be provided in supplementary information on the Which? website.

I wish Which? would push manufacturers to stop using temperature settings in washing machine instructions and control panels unless they represent temperatures achieved.

In view of the confusing information from manufacturers, it’s worth having frequent guidances, especially as low temperature washing is becoming increasingly common and some fabrics will not withstand higher temperatures. Low temperature washing is OK for most purposes most of the time provided that regular maintenance washes are carried out. If it is necessary to wash nurses’ uniforms or clothing soiled with faeces, something like a nappy sanitiser should be used. I would not trust washing them at 60°C. Using a powder laundry detergent containing a bleach will help to keep the machine free of bacterial contamination between maintenance washes and is not a bad idea for washing underwear and anything that is not dark coloured.

It would be interesting to hear an opinion on quick washes at low temperature. My machine does a 20 minute ‘express wash’ at 40°C. I tried it out of interest and only half the time was used for the wash cycle. Whereas a long wash at low temperature mechanically removes bugs in the same way that it removes dirt, I cannot think an express wash achieves much. I might yet start to be concerned about low temperature washing. 🙂