What’s in a Name?
If you combine my love of retro appliances with a made-up swear word from the future, you get a SMEG. Completely besotted with the word since watching Red Dwarf, I couldn’t believe that the simple, curved beauty of an appliance could be permanently etched with a name that I find so amusing.
There are many retro appliances that make my heart quicken, but this is my favorite, and I am embarrassed to say it has a lot to do with the name. How can you be sad if you are looking at the word Smeg several times a day?
Most names sound utilitarian, and are associated with efficiency and practicality; I am sure that Whirlpool was created because of the shape it made when the water spun around, and that KitchenAid came naturally to someone who felt it was an aid in the kitchen. Others, like Maytag and Black & Decker, are named after the founders, while some are acronyms for something that was considered far too lengthy for the consumer to pronounce (the beloved AGA, originated in Sweden, and is short for Aktiebolaget Gas Accumulator).
Do we actually buy appliances because of their name, and does their name really mean anything at all? I think it does. We rely on certain names because of their reputation, some we buy because we are being loyal to the country that it is manufactured in, and others we lean towards just because we grew up seeing them over and over in our parents home.
Then, there are the one’s that tug at our hearts; lured by their style and color, they have the ability to cheer us up on a morning, and make the most boring of tasks seem like fun. I purchased a toaster many years ago, that has the word TOAST on each side. I am sure it is not as efficient as it used to be, and it is showing a few signs of age, but I still smile when I see the word toast on my toaster (from a practical perspective, when I also show signs of age, it will be an easy reminder at breakfast time).
So, would I get something that wasn’t as well made as another, just because of the name? The logical answer would be “Of course not!”, but my personal, honest answer would be “Yes!”. I would gladly share my life with slightly frivolous Smeg, even if it was for a very short time, than wake up every morning to an efficient, but uninspired kitchen appliance.
p.s. The photograph is from West Elm, where you can buy the toaster (and the flamingos).
For more by Wendy and the Blue Giraffe, go to: http://www.thebluegiraffe.com/