Although since imitated, the launch of the FAB fridge by Smeg heralded the start of a new era of appreciation for retro design.
Design Classic is a category created to pay tribute to some of the landmark designs that have had a big impact when they were first launched, but which have also helped to shape kitchen or bathroom design thinking ever since.
The winner of this year’s Design Classic Award has certainly had an impact, heralding an era of retro fashion that remains hugely popular today.
This product was first previewed at KBB in 1996 before going on general sale the following year amid the usual ‘it’ll never work’ feedback often associated with designs that are different to the norm.
Visually, it took inspiration from the 1950’s, bringing curves and bold statement colours to a product category that had otherwise consisted of very functional, square white boxes. The first colours to launch in the range included pastel blue, pastel green and cream – colours that have seen a real resurgence in recent years. The iconic chunky handle is another hallmark of the product and is also an influential differentiator – an emotive yet functional tool which has become synonymous with the brand.
The product’s branding was also a leap of faith for the Italian appliance brand. Smeg’s logo has evolved over the years and its main corporate logo is not used on the outside of the 50’s range, although each fridge does link back to the corporate logo inside with a subtle logo. In fact Smeg, formed as a metal enameller in the town of Guastalla in Reggio Emilia, displayed its acronym S M E G on its original chimney. This bold, capitalised and spaced out logo was the inspiration behind the familiar lettering style that appears on the front of the FAB.
The iconic styling has since been rolled out to other appliances too, with dishwashers and fires added to the range, as well as small appliances including kettles, toasters and blenders – with more to follow in 2016.
But the core product itself has cemented a place in the market as a true one off, a modern classic that as well as achieving sales success, has become a cultural icon, appearing in a host of TV programmes and films. Even two of Britain’s best-loved animated characters – Wallace and Gromit – are proud to have one in their kitchen.
The FAB fridge becomes the third winner of the Design Classic Award, following The Cook’s Kitchen by Mark Wilkinson (2013) and the Istanbul Collection by Ross Lovegrove for VitrA (2014). The 2015 award was presented to John Davies, Brand Manager for Smeg UK.
Smeg / smeguk.com