For 16 years, SMEG has been adding color to kitchens in the Philippines.
No one could have predicted that the most popular event of last week would be a celebration for a refrigerator.
On September 20, SMEG marked its 16th year in the Philippines with a lavish celebration at Ayala Museum. SMEG, a brand known for its high-end appliances, particularly their colorful refrigerators and sleek mid-century design, was brought to the Philippines by Mondo Cucina, Inc. (MCI) in 2007. As a tribute to the craftsmanship behind each appliance, the brand hosted exclusive after-hours viewings of Juan Luna’s recently rediscovered masterpiece, Hymen, oh Hyménée!, currently on display at the museum.
SMEG arranged a garden display of their appliances for one evening. Attendees were welcomed to view the fridges, and interact with the mixers and espresso machines hands-on.
In 1948, Vittorio Bertazzoni founded SMEG, which stands for Smalterie Metallurgiche Emiliane Guastalla. This translates to “Emilian Metallurgical Enamelling Works Guastalla” in English. The FAB line of mid-century retro fridges was introduced in the 1990s and has since become popular among trendy individuals for home use.
The president of MCI, Ton Concepcion, spoke to BusinessWorld at the event about their widespread presence in Metro Manila, Cebu, and Davao. He shared that SMEG kitchens can be found in the majority of new buildings in the Philippines, with 10,000 condominium units and 40 buildings featuring them. It is a source of great pride for the company that a brand that was relatively unknown 16 years ago has now become a household name.
Mr. Concepcion, a member of the renowned Concepcion family known for their involvement in the cooling industry and ownership of popular brands such as Carrier, Condura, Otis, Kelvinator, and Midea (although MCI operates independently), emphasizes the importance of family values in relation to the brand. He describes it as a partnership between families. Similarly, the Bertazzoni family has maintained control of SMEG since its establishment. According to Mr. Concepcion, both families share a passion for excellence – the Italians known for their skilled craftsmanship and his own family known for their excellent customer service. It’s a perfect match.
In conclusion, the refrigerator may still be considered costly. However, Mr. Concepcion highlights that SMEG has a diverse product line, including coffee machines and other compact appliances. The refrigerators are priced between P76,000 for the smallest size and P200,000 for the largest size. Karen, Mr. Concepcion’s spouse and MCI’s Creative Director, stated that she will not explain or defend the high cost. She believes that the quality of the product justifies the price and that SMEG prioritizes excellent service and quality parts to meet the expectations of their customers who make a significant investment in their products.
The item is both intelligent and attractive: it incorporates functions such as inverter technology, fan-assisted cooling, multi-flow cooling, humidity regulation, and electronic temperature control in a sleek package. Ms. Concepcion discusses the importance of both appearance and functionality. “It follows the Italian tradition of combining style and technology. It is not excessive, but simply beautiful.”
“It’s a visually appealing addition to your kitchen and can spark conversation. Nowadays, people are drawn to the kitchen and want it to be a beautiful space,” stated Joseph L. Garcia.