How Retro Can You Go?

Fifties style is stalking the runways, and mid-century design is making its way into every room of the house. A look at the allure of America's favorite era

Most people don't spend a whole lot of time thinking about their relationship with their toaster. But KitchenAid does. When the company was testing its new line of retro-inspired appliances, researchers crisscrossed the country asking consumers to describe their kitchenware. "What we said was 'Think of this product as a person and you're meeting him for the first time at a cocktail party,'" says Charles Jones, vice president of global consumer design at Whirlpool, KitchenAid's parent company. "What we kept hearing was 'Solid, dependable, makes me smile, someone I can trust.'"

Meet the new face of design. It's friendly, whimsical, durable...