Champions of Design – Smeg

22nd January

An Italian brand that many of us assume is Scandinavian, which took off with fridges evoking a sense of retro Americana. If the design is good enough, we are happy to be a bit fuzzy on the details of provenance.

It’s pretty simple isn’t it? The ‘classic’ FAB Smeg became the fridge to buy because the design had emotional appeal; their generous curves (backed up with robust engineering) perhaps made it appeal to the women making the in-store purchase decisions.

Once one has seen a Smeg, it is hard to go back to a boring cube designed along more patriarchal lines. And they came in many colours beyond white because, well, why be so boring? For us Brits, it was the first fridge that bothered to have charisma. After that, it was all about keeping up with the Joneses…

The FAB caught the imagination of a generation who wanted to trade up to something bigger and chunkier than was typical in the 90s. The FAB design was bigger, better, cooler. ‘Why settle for less?’ they seemed to ask. In class-conscious Britain, they came to stand for ‘smug’ as much as anything.

You will notice I am not dwelling on the brand’s wider range; my instinct is that we Brits only trust a brand to have one signature product with personality. Too many funky lines would stretch our sense of credibility. But what a product the FAB is. Before it arrived, one would have struggled to name a ‘nice fridge’. No longer.

By Silas Amos, creative strategist, jkr.

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