Mandi Keighran heads to Guastalla, Reggio Emilia in Italy to discover where Smeg makes their iconic kitchen appliances.
Knowing that five days of Milan madness are ahead, I jump at the opportunity to visit the Smeg factory in the Italian countryside. Located in Guastalla, Reggio Emilia – an area famous for its picturesque countryside and cheese production – the Smeg factory gave wonderful insight into the ’Smeg mentality’.
The company has been owned by the Bertazzoni family for five generations, and has three factories and over 1,850 employees around the world. I was lucky enough to be taken on a tour of the head office, the Guastalla factory (where the ovens, hobs, ranges and cookers are manufactured) and the Bonferraro factory (where dishwashers and fridge doors are manufactured).
The head office was designed in 2003 by Italian architect, Guido Canali – who also designed the iconic ’Classic’ line for Smeg.
The entire space – from the still water that surrounds the entrance to the light- and art-filled spaces, and bamboo gardens – exudes a kind of Japanese serenity that speaks volumes of the Smeg approach to employees and the products they produce. It was no surprise that everyone we met had been working with Smeg for well over a decade!
The factories again were an insight into the Smeg mentality – each product entirely manufactured in Italy and put through a rigorous testing process to ensure quality. It was clear from the sheer volume of tools and machines in each space that Smeg invest not only in aesthetics and style, but also in the latest technology.
Smeg are exhibiting at Eurocucina this year and have an array of exciting new product launches lined up. There were two standouts for me. The first was a new addition to the ’Classic’ range – a stone oven that has been developed with chef, Nadia Saltini of local 3 Michelin Star restaurant Il Pescatorio. The new oven is the first of its kind for the domestic market and has kitchen or al fresco applications.
The second was a new ’FAB’ fridge from the ’50s Retro collection. The fridge is – unbelievably – clad in actual denim that has been treated with a plasma finish so it withstands spills as plastic would. The blue jean fridge was suggested to CEO Vittorio Bertazzoni by well-known Italian personality, Lapo Elkann of Fiat fame.
The tour of the head office and factories and insight into the new products being launched by Smeg was a wonderful opportunity to discover the family, the heritage and the people – and their love of design and food! – behind the iconic brand.