What is retro? Wikipedia defines it as, “a culturally outdated or aged style, trend, mode, or fashion, from the overall postmodern past, that has since that time become functionally or superficially the norm once again. The use of “retro” style iconography and imagery interjected into post-modern art, advertising, mass media, etc.” Although a useful resource, information from Wikipedia usually needs to be taken with a grain of salt. In this case however, the Wikipedia definition works fairly well as a general description.
It’s hard to pin down exactly what retro means for specific art or objects. For computer games, retro can mean games from the 1980s and 1990s, retro art is often considered to be based on popular art from the 1960s or 1970s (but the bold styles of earlier years are often called retro too) and for kitchen appliances (including retro toasters). The bottom line is that retro means different things to different people.
For kitchen appliances, it is even more difficult to pin down. Since they are generally designed first for function and then for design, the design tends to be basically the same over the years. For example, the basic design of a toaster in the 1950s is very similar to a model released this year. The main differences (aside from some internal technology, such as computer chips, etc.) are in the colors used and shape of the covering. A notable exception is the replacement of the percolating coffee maker with the automatic drip coffee maker that occurred in the early 1970s.
The most common feature of retro style appliances these days (mainly toasters, blenders, mixers and percolators) are devices using knobs, dials and levers instead of digital displays and touch pads. The most common exterior is chrome or burnished steel, although white and pastel colors are also quite common. One notable exception to this that is sometimes encountered is bold dot or colored pattern designs that were popular in the late 1960s and early 1970s, although this is less common on retro kitchen appliances than other “retro” items.
Since retro toasters and other retro kitchen appliances tend to be stylish yet subdued, they can fit into nearly any kitchen decor, unlike some of the “modern” designs that almost require an entire remodel of the kitchen to fit in. In addition to being stylish, they are also economical and many companies are producing retro style appliances at very reasonable prices. So if you’re looking to add a bit of style to your kitchen without spending a lot of money, retro toasters and other retro appliances are the way to go.