Sub Zero refrigeration appliances: a history and why we choose them!

The coolest, calmest and definitely the most collected.

OK, so you’ve nailed down your Charlie Kingham handmade bespoke kitchen. Now it’s time to look at the fridge and freezer. When you start to make that biggest of decisions on what brand of refrigeration you are going to choose, Sub Zero really must rank right up there at the pinnacle of your wish list.

Truly, there are not many finer super brands or products available.

With stealth and cunning, these assets can be tucked neatly away behind closed doors. Surreptitiously hidden neatly away, fully integrated to complete a coordinated aesthetic.

But is that really what you want with such beautiful and imposing beast like these? Surely are they not best when placed prominently?

It goes without saying then that they should be standing front and centre in all their pomposity and stainless steel glory displaying the uncompromising build quality.

In future journals I will be going into more detail about Sub Zero’s current offer along with their faithful stable mate Wolf cooking. But for now, I’m going to drift back in time a bit and offer up a potted history, showcasing some innovative and ground breaking episodes they’ve been responsible for along the way.

It is hard to deny what a wonderful heritage this brand has generated over the last 70 odd years.

In 1926, Westye F. Bakke, his wife Mary and their two children, Bud and Elaine, moved to Madison, Wisconsin to start a new life.

It all started way ‘back in the day’ (September 1943, to be exact) when from humble beginnings, a youthful but driven and confident Westye F. Bakke, using salvaged scrap metal, manages to build the first freestanding freezer prototype in his basement in Wisconsin. The invention kick-started a series of pioneering creations and triggered the birth of the Sub-Zero Freezer Company.

Quoting the man himself:
“As a young man with an idea for a new kind of business, you could do a lot worse than having Frank Lloyd Wright give you your first big break.”

September 1945, it all becomes official! Bakke registers the Sub-Zero Freezer Company and it becomes an official corporation. Becoming the very first appliances to meet the strict new standards set for safe freezing, Sub-Zero the brand is born – hence the name.

Fast forward to September 1955 (…seems to be a bit of a theme developing here) and the introduction of the ingenious ‘Two in One’. Sub-Zero introduce dual refrigeration, ensuring fridge and freezer foods are safely preserved in separate, sealed systems.

Once more, September 1964, as refrigerated furniture remains at the forefront of design throughout the 1960s, Sub-Zero builds refrigerators into bar counters, credenzas and even living room tables. This most definitely makes them flavour of the month, if not the decade. Great ideas really! Why are they not reproducing these gorgeous little pieces today?

In 1967 during, you guessed it – September, Sub-Zero announces its best-selling built-in refrigerator model – it becomes top seller, comprising approximately 70% of all sales.

A few more Septembers on in to the future and Westye’s son Bud Bakke works with Bob Kelly to improve all Sub-Zero models, sourcing better interior lighting and installing the pull-out freezer drawer we take for granted today.

Later on, third-generation member of the family, Jim Bakke continues the legacy of the company throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, and adds the wine cooler range with electric controls to the Sub-Zero portfolio.

Jim at the time was quoted as saying

“All of our design and engineering are aimed at meaningful innovations that contribute to the life of the home”

Further to that, the 400 series is launched by Sub-Zero. This new type of wine cooler, with two separate temperature zones, gives the wine enthusiast a cutting edge advantage with ultimate flexibility.

What about present day? Sub-Zero & Wolf are now celebrating 70 years in style, throwing a party for employees and guests at the elegant Dartmouth House in Mayfair.

What a pretty impressive narrative if I do say so. Maybe the influential reasoning why Charlie Kingham is so proud to have such a meaningful relationship with such an engaging troop!

Why not catch up on the Wolf brand of range cookers and outdoor kitchens journal when you get a chance?