In my opinion, the gorgeous retro style of Smeg’s appliances scores a perfect ten in the looks department. I’m not the only one that thinks this either, these stylish appliances have played a huge role in making this Italian company a kitchen icon in the last few decades. Smeg, and its 50’s retro style aesthetic, have won countless Good Design Awards for their fashion-conscious kitchen appliances, a testament to how beautiful these machines really are.
Unfortunately, it’s probably not just the beautiful aesthetics of Smeg appliances that will catch your attention. I’m sure the eye-watering price tag will also make you do a double-take.
Most of us have pondered why Smeg appliances are so expensive at one time or another. If you are questioning the big price tags, I certainly don’t blame you, Smeg appliances cost considerably more compared to almost every other reputable household brand.
I have done some time digging into the main reasons why is Smeg so expensive and whether you can actually justify paying these hefty price tags. Here’s what I discovered.
Who is Smeg?
Before we start talking about these pricy appliances, I think we need to answer another, equally important, question: Who, or rather what, is Smeg?
For those that don’t know, Smeg has its roots in Northern Italy, created at the hands of a man called Vittorio Bertazzoni in 1948. The company originally specialized in enamel and metalwork but they started to manufacture white goods in 1956 with the goal of creating products that made housework less hassle.
Since then, the family-owned Italian company has expanded to create a reputation for itself as a major manufacturer of large appliances for domestic and commercial use. The company produces a range of goods from refrigerators, washing machines, and dishwashers, and in 2014, expanded into small domestic appliances including; toasters, stand mixers, kettles, and most recently, coffee machines.
Many of Smeg’s larger appliances are manufactured in Italy, at one of their four specialist factories, while their smaller appliances are made in China.
Now you know who Smeg is, let’s start talking dollars and cents. Firstly, how much higher are their prices compared to average appliances?
I’m sure it won’t shock you to hear that Smeg’s products are classed as luxury appliances. Prices range from $5467 for a gas cooker to $838 for an espresso coffee maker and $194 for their FAB 50 electric kettle.
The price of Smeg appliances is significantly higher than other trusted home brands like Bosch, Electrolux, Samsung or GE. In fact, Smeg products generally cost double or triple the amount you’d shell out for a similar product sold by an average or popular brand.
Take the unassuming electric kettle as an extreme example. For a Smeg kettle, you will likely fork out just shy of $200. Other popular models from Hamilton Beach or Cuisinart, retail at $69 and $99 respectively. When you compare these prices with a non-branded kettle retailing at $20, Smeg is priced a whopping 10 TIMES higher.
This isn’t exactly unusual, it’s a similar story with many of Smeg’s other small appliance offerings too.
I think we can all agree that these guys make some of the most expensive kitchen appliances money can buy. So why is Smeg so expensive? Here are some of the main reasons that I think affect their retail price.
Why is Smeg So Expensive?
You’re Paying For Art
Design is the single biggest reason why smeg appliances are so expensive. Don’t think of Smeg as buying any old countertop appliance, the company wants to evoke the experience of owning artwork, similar to buying a prized painting to hang on your wall.
I mean, come on, look how gorgeous these appliances are!
These award-winning designs didn’t happen by accident. Smeg devotes considerable time, energy, and resources to perfecting the aesthetics of all of its creations. Design is so important in fact, that the company has worked closely with celebrity architects and designers for decades in order to create lines of visually stunning home and kitchen appliances.
Here are a few examples of Smeg’s aesthetic lines and the designers responsible for them.
- Guido Canali, one of Italy’s leading architects, has worked with Smeg since 1985 and is the man behind the ‘Classica’ line. They are a cornerstone of Smeg’s product offering, with the Classica aesthetic found on large appliances like their ovens, hobs, and dishwashers. The Classica products are identified by their modern classic design, solid stainless steel volumes, and the signature Canali control knobs.
- Mario Bellini is a talented product designer and architect with permanent displays in the New York Museum of Modern Art. Bellini worked with Smeg to create the Victoria and Contemporary lines that married tech with soft, classic styles.
- Renzo Piano, a world renounced architect with creations like the London Shard and the New York Times Skyscraper, is responsible for the Piano Design. This aesthetic line is used on a range of high-quality stainless steel hobs and sinks whose curvature exudes luxe and strength.
- Marc Newson, is a man that has been described as ‘one of the most influential designers of his generation, and frequently included in the TIMES 100 most influential people list. The Australian designer created the Newson aesthetic for Semg, identified by their soft lines and colorful palettes.
- Matteo Bazzicalupo & Raffaella Mangiarotti of Deepdesign are the designers behind the FAB 50’s range, as well as Smeg’s small appliances.
As you can see then, Smeg products represent much more than just appliances with basic functions. Everything they create is done so with art, style, and elegance in mind. In order to own a little collection of Smeg art, you need to pay the price.
You’re Paying For a Luxury Brand
We are all guilty of choosing products because of the associated value and the perception we have of their brand names.
The trust and reputation that these companies acquire over the years allow them to charge more for their products.
This is no different for home appliances. When you buy from a company like KitchenAid or Smeg, you’re not just paying for the product quality or design but for the awe the name evokes. For luxury brands like Smeg, this goes a step further, it is how people perceive you when you own such expensive items. Like any other high-end goods – designer shoes, cars or clothes – Smeg appliances are status symbols.
It’s simple really. Smeg is a luxe brand and, as we all know, luxury brands sell at luxury prices.
Compare any of Smeg’s products to their budget counterparts and you’ll quickly realize that there isn’t much difference in terms of performance or build quality. Smeg isn’t trying to be the most innovative, revolutionary appliance manufacturer out there. Smeg products are representations of class, style, and wealth, and are meant for flaunting, rather than performance.
Italy: A country synonymous with style, fashion, and the Renaissance period. Being an Italian luxury appliance manufacturer, it is only natural for Smeg to collaborate with other famous Italian brands to produce truly unique products.
Sometimes, you’re not just paying for the Smeg name but also for the association with other brand collaborations too.
For instance, Smeg teamed up with Dolce and Gabbana to create the ‘Sicily Is My Love’ line in 2018. This colorful and artistic range of kitchen appliances features the iconic D&G design, highlighting the beauty of Sicily and its culture. This project was originally limited to only 100 hand-painted fridges, some of which were sold for as much as $40,000!
The initial success of this project saw the collaboration between these two Italian companies expand into a range of small appliances too. If you thought $200 for a toaster was crazy, then you are in for a real shock with these!
If the D&G collab is too vibrant for you, then the Fiat Drinks Fridge might be a little more up your street. This limited fridge, shaped like the front of a Fiat 500 using original car parts, was announced in 2013. This isn’t just a quirky man-gave accessory though, it also embodies Smeg’s historic routes, a nod to the company’s first collaboration with Fiat making fridges after the Second World War.
Oh, and in case you are in the market for a wildly impractical car fridge, the Fiat Drinks Fridge will set you back north of $10,000.
Limited Edition Products
We all love a good brag, especially when it comes to showing off our limited-edition luxuries. When something is in high demand but limited, we flock on mass in an attempt to grab that product before it goes out of stock forever.
Do we need that product? My guess is probably not. Are there other products out there better and cheaper? almost certainly. But we are blinded by the mere fact it is a limited edition product and in some cases one of a kind.
Smeg has been throwing limited edition products right, left and center. From the Dolce and Gabbana collaboration mentioned above to the limited edition commemorative Disney fridge and the Fiat 500 mini fridge, Smeg certainly knows how to make an entrance into the limited edition market.
Interestingly, research shows that young consumers will happily pay more for a limited edition item that looks good over a product that doesn’t catch their eye. This strategy has worked well for Smeg, as for Smeg, looks are everything and when something looks good, and on top of that is a limited edition, the price is inevitably going to skyrocket.
This leads me to my next point as to why Smeg products are so expensive…
Smeg products have soared in popularity in recent years, and with their aesthetically pleasing design, it is understandable why so many people want them in their kitchens.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. People buy Smeg products, not because they perform particularly well, but because they are pleasing to look at and have a status as a luxury appliance. There is a lot of love out there for Smeg products and people do not think twice about the price, even if it is astronomically high for what they are buying.
Aside from the aesthetic side contributing to high demand, I think it is also worth mentioning that in recent years we have seen an increase of Smeg products being used by our favorite bakers, chefs, and celebrities on social media. Naturally, if we see someone who we admire and trust, we will follow suit and purchase products that they use or recommend.
The bigger the demand, the higher the price.
Smeg prides itself on making high-quality products. The majority of their kitchen appliances are made from strong stainless steel materials or die-cast aluminum so – in theory – Smeg products should have longevity and should not break easily.
Many of their large appliances like the cooktops and range hoods generally perform well and are made from stainless steel, glass, and ceramic with what they call ‘cutting-edge technology. Their range of hoods is sleek and minimalistic, while their cooktops range from classic to full-flush designs which can certainly justify the high price.
While their smaller appliances, like their kettles and mixers, are also made from high-quality stainless steel or die-cast aluminum, some testers have found them to somewhat lack in performance.
Made in Italy… Sometimes
Are you wondering where is Smeg made? The answer will probably disappoint you. The place of origin adds to the novelty factor, and by extension to the cost of a product, whether it is a baking pan or a stand mixer. Smeg’s major product offering is their white goods right from the Elizabeth gas cooker in the 1950s with smaller appliances added to the collection in 2014.
These larger appliances, like Smeg’s refrigerators or washing machines, are built in one of the four factories based in Northern Italy. This certainly is one of the contributing factors to higher prices.
Although smaller appliances including kettles, stand mixers, and toasters manufactured in China equally benefit from the status symbol pricing.
So, there you have it, the seven reasons why I think smeg appliances are so expensive. We have covered quite a bit in this article, but one important question still remains unanswered...
Are Smeg Appliances Worth It?
After discovering the eye-watering price of their products, the logical question most people ask is, whether Smeg appliances are worth spending a fortune on.
My answer to this question is: It depends.
If aesthetics and design are more important to you compared to all other features and benefits, then yes, investing in a few Smeg appliances is worth it.
If you’re one of those millennial high earners who want to flaunt their wealth and seek status symbols or exclusive-looking appliances to adorn their home, then, yes, it doesn’t get much better than Smeg in this respect.
For most people, however, I would assume that design takes third place behind durability and functionality. For others, it goes down a level below price consideration.
I hate to say it but you don’t have to look very far to find customers unimpressed with Smeg’s build quality.
The Senior Lab Technician at Reviewed (a trusted name in expert opinions and reviews) didn’t mince his words when it came to many of Smeg’s appliances. He was not impressed with their tech at all.
Choice also recommends caution when it comes to appliances from Smeg. They do have a problem with many brand products (which appliances do they not recommend??), but their comments are pretty consistent with the views of other experts and customers. It’s not all doom and gloom though, they do have good things to say about their wall ovens and coffee machines.
Unfortunately, it is not just me, or the “experts”, who think the quality of Smeg’s appliances is sub-par. Customers who fell for the brand name and looks and brought home one of Smeg’s expensive gadgets have negative experiences with their appliances. Even their cheapest product like the $200 kettle has dissatisfied users who had to contend with chipping and broken parts, long boiling times, and leaks.
Their beautiful blenders are also met with similar reviews. One user suggested that a cheap Hamilton Beach or Oster would do a much better job.
There you have it. Smeg products look downright gorgeous but will inevitably cost you an arm and a leg… and maybe a few more limbs too. These appliances will not only pinch your pocket but their performance and durability remain inconsistent and lacking compared to other costlier as well as cheaper products.
Would I choose Smeg or another brand? I’m not so sure. When it comes to the Smeg vs KitchenAid stand mixer, I know which one I would choose.