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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

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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 is annoying – who are those people who by for Bling ?? who have zero practical sense and are heavily influenced by TV adverts . I despair that the British public have been “downgraded ” so much into automatons – buy our glossy product , soon people will be bred for big business who react to every advert , every body telling them to buy-buy- buy . Is there anybody left in this country who is practical/ down to earth / apart from bankers , of course . Are we now just Americans but not in name yet ? Removing the “industrial mindset ” of Britain which made this country an Empire has a lot to answer for.


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.

Win Gibson says:
11 June 2017

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 hav