After four years of intense R&D and input from top pizza chefs, Breville designers revealed the Smart Oven Pizzaiolo with its patented Element IQ System (which steers power to where it’s needed when it’s needed). It’s the world’s first indoor countertop pizza oven that heats up to 750°F, and Breville designers spent hours sketching and making models to achieve the beautiful and highly innovative final product. We caught up with Richard Hoare, Breville’s design and innovation director, to find out how this modern marvel was created.
“The idea of a countertop pizza oven came when I was reading the Modernist Cuisine books and I noticed a couple of pages based on experiences from the Fat Duck test kitchen, where they had been trying to find a way to make wood-fired style pizza in the restaurant without having to build a massive kiln. I thought, ‘That’s interesting. I think we could make a product that could do that in people’s homes.’”
The design team at Breville looks to solve problems like this one and fill voids, and they leapt at the chance to develop a countertop appliance that would deliver a pizza fast—in less than two minutes—without the need to build a vast, expensive, wood-fired oven. “We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we could develop an appliance that sits on a countertop, like a microwave or toaster oven, that could replicate the wood-fired environment? There are pizza ovens around at the moment that do an average job due to the limitation they all have to reach the kind of temperature to create wood-fired pizza. At Breville, we love these types of challenges.”
The Breville design team didn’t want the Smart Oven Pizzaiolo to look like a gimmicky snack maker or be mistaken for a microwave. Instead, they approached it from a more classic avenue. “We ended up going for the larger radial on the top corners as a gesture toward the more traditional pizza oven.”
Four Design Details
Sleek and sophisticated, the Pizzaiolo fits nicely within the brand’s design language, with features you’ll find on any Breville countertop appliance, from its sturdy feet to the polished stainless strip along the bottom. The large window allows you to see inside, and the handle position gives you easy, safe access so you can smoothly load and retrieve your pizza. An auto-eject door automatically pulls out the pizza stone for safer handling.
Wattage was a challenge early on, as US maximum wattage is 1800 watts. “We need a lot of heat on the crust to emulate the coals in a wood-fired pizza oven,” Richard says. To mimic that process, one heating element focuses solely on the crust from the top while another keeps things hot underneath. As you load the pizza and close the door, a built-in element lifts the platform so the pizza gets closer to the top heating element.
Wired for Heat
But how to keep wiring from wearing down in such an intense environment? “A lot of the componentry you would normally use can’t handle the temperatures,” Richard says. “We had to design in a way that the wiring harness [that moves the pizza up and down] could withstand all the movement.” Superior insulation—including double glass pane doors—keeps the heat inside, too.
“When you have a team developing a product like this you get very immersed in the space. You become an expert to develop the product, but you have to step back and ask, ‘From the mindset of the consumer, how can we make this easy to use?’” Breville developed a solution for everyone. While the product offers up automatic settings, a “hack” mode for professional chefs lets you venture beyond presets if needed. “When you’ve got 10 kids lined up with their pizzas ready to go, you don’t want to burn one. We want people to be heroes in their kitchens.”
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This article originally appeared in the Fall/Winter 2019 issue of Sixtysix with the headline “Breville’s Pizzaiolo.” Subscribe today.
Produced by Studio Sixtysix
Words by Laura Rote
Photos by Samer Almadani
Prop Styling by Adrienne Blumthal
Studio Sixtysix is the in-house creative agency to Sixtysix magazine. Studio Sixtysix stories are conceived, produced, and edited by Studio Sixtysix.