A truly great espresso coffee machine is about more than just good looks. Yes, it's easy to go along to exhibitions and admire the very different aesthetics of some of today's modern espresso machines, but I would be more concerned with the build quality and proven (or not) reliability.
There are some not so 'hip' names that have been designing and manufacturing espresso machines for years and have managed to combine good looks, with a solid construction using quality tooling, quality materials, and great support.
One of my favourites is BFC/Royal who've been manufacturing machines for about 10 years from a substantial factory near Treviso, Italy. The owner, Marco Brutti, is an ex Astoria employee who decided to design a new range of machines, not be reinventing the wheel but simply by improving it.
The old adage; "why fix what's not broken" certainly rings true. By utilising quality, proven parts and exerting full control over the production process, (BFC/Royal bend all their metal and fabricate all their copper work in-house), Marco has merely tweaked a proven product. By doing this, alongside putting his own stamp on it, he is able to offer it at a competitive price, against the badge names and much lower than the 'hip' companies.
Oh, the Synchro
range is undoubtedly good looking too.