Fashion may be synonymous with clothing, but designer kitchenware is fast becoming as appealing as the latest Hermès handbag. GEORGINA SAFE explores the rise of beautiful cooking collectables
Prepare to be bowled over by the rise of beautiful cooking collectables
When fashion publicist Adam Worling celebrated his 50th birthday, his partner set up a gift registry for the who’s who of the industry that attended his lavish lunch at the Tilbury Hotel in Woolloomooloo.
Worling works with some of the best in the business, including Carla Zampatti, David Jones and Ginger & Smart, so you’d think his birthday wish list would have been heavy on Hermès, Gucci and some of his other favourite labels. Think again.
“Give me anything from a kitchen shop over a fashion shop any day,” says Worling. “Give me a muffin tin, a wooden spoon or a potato peeler but most of all give me Le Creuset, and my preferred colour is Volcanic Red because it’s fiery and I think food should be fiery.”
Contributions to Worling’s Le Creuset gift registry added to his already extensive collection: “Three baking dishes, a large casserole, an omelette skillet, a tarte Tatin dish, frying pan, double-lidded saucepan, camembert baker,” he rattles off joyfully.
“My baking dish is everything,” he says. “It’s made so well that it’s like buying a cashmere sweater and knowing you’ll have it for 40 years.”
While Worling is an accomplished cook, stylist Megan Morton readily admits her obsession with kitchen appliances is born of a lack of culinary skill. “I will buy whatever it takes to make me look accomplished,” she says. “Much like the idiom of wearing the clothes for the job you want, I like to set my table for the food I wish I could cook, rather than what I turn out.”
When asked what she has her eye on, Morton responds: “Everything! From the perfect set of salad servers to a Zip tap, I am hungry like the wolf!”
It’s not just Worling and Morton who are going gaga for kitchen equipment, gadgets and appliances with a zeal previously reserved for the latest It-bag or designer shoe. People the world over are lusting after shiny, colourful and expensive appliances and kitchen tools, from KitchenAids and Thermomixes to bullet blenders, steam ovens and hotplates. Appliances have become status symbols akin to luxury labels, and like high-end accessories they come in a range of finishes, colours and sizes.
Some are even masterminded by fashion designers, such as Smeg’s new ‘Sicily is my love’ range created by Dolce & Gabbana. Thanks to the Italian fashion house,you can now blend (pun intended) your love of food and fashion with a Dolce & Gabbana printed toaster, food processor, stand mixer, blender, juicer, kettle or coffee machine adorned with the fruits and symbols of Italy.
“In Australia, until recently, people were designing kitchens not for themselves but for the next owner, because everyone was flipping property,” says Tamara Buchanan, head of brand for Smeg Australia. “But post-GFC, people are wanting to put down roots and create the home they want to live in, so they are investing in appliances that will enable them to do that while expressing their own personalities.”
Consumers are choosing kitchen gadgets for bragging rights as well as the business of preparing meals. “Small appliances now are so gorgeous they’ve become show-off pieces in their own right, to demonstrate to visitors that you have taste and style,” Buchanan says. “Where once people kept them in the cupboard, now they leave them on the bench and use them every day. Just like fashion accessories, Smeg small appliances provide pops of colour and style in the kitchen.”
Walk into any Harvey Norman store and you’re confronted by bright stand mixers and other stylish appliances.
“We started pushing colour and design with appliances because everyone was getting these fabulous kitchens by the likes of Poliform and the appliances just weren’t keeping up,” says Harvey Norman CEO Katie Page.
Stand mixers, multi-cookers (“We used to call them pressure cookers”) and coffee machines are the top three selling appliances at Harvey Norman, where Page says the impact of cooking shows and social media is also driving sales.
“My 24-year-old daughter and her friends are all into cooking but they want it to look beautiful and to use beautiful appliances as props for Instagram,” says Page. “The media talks a lot about how the millennials are living with social media, but let me tell you, everyone is living like this today.”
As co-founder of Dinosaur Designs, aesthetics are important to Louise Olsen. “I just bought a new Miele dishwasher and I love my Bosch steam oven, which is the perfect size for home. I’m looking at new hotplates right now but I haven’t made up my mind yet.”
Head of Thermomix in New Zealand, Bianca Mazur, says long working hours plus a desire for healthy living are also driving people to buy appliances. “People are more health-conscious than ever and want to create wholesome superfood from scratch without spending hours in the kitchen,” she says.
For Page, appliances are really about giving more time to connect with family and friends. “The kitchen is the heart of the family and these appliances are making it easier for people to cook really well and share the results with their children and friends.”