Our partners Sub-Zero & Wolf have been leaders in home refrigeration and cooking appliances for over 70 years. Their appliances are expertly crafted and skilfully engineered, bringing professional quality to the residential home. In this article, we turn our spotlight on the brand Sub-Zero to create the ultimate guide to the brand and its products. We look at Sub-Zero’s humble beginnings and history, its pioneering innovations, and the brand’s current portfolio of incredible cooling appliances.

A Sub-Zero Refrigerator in an Extreme Design Kitchen


The first prototype: On the 1st September 1943, despite material shortages imposed by World War II, Westye F. Bakke builds the first-ever freestanding freezer prototype using salvaged scrap metal. Residential refrigerators at the time only had ice cube compartments, with no ability to deep freeze foods for extended use.

Sub-Zero Founder Westye F. Bakke

Sub-Zero Founder Westye F. Bakke courtesy of Sub-Zero & Wolf

Home Freezing: In 1945, 2 years after the first prototype, Bakke registers the Sub-Zero Freezer Company as an official corporation. The Sub-Zero freezer becomes the first home freezer to meet the strict new standards for safe home freezing.

First to Manufacture Built-in Refrigerator: In the late 1940s, large competitors including General Electric had started to manufacture residential freezers making it hard for Sub-Zero to compete. During this time, Sub-Zero’s income came from the production of speciality freezers and low-temperature refrigeration for commercial and scientific applications. Sub-Zero was one of the first to manufacture built-in refrigerators, beginning in the 1950s. The pivotal moment that positioned Sub-Zero in the luxury home appliance market once again was actually a custom order from a friend of Mr Bakke’s. The custom order specified a refrigerator that was the same depth as the customer’s kitchen counters and cabinetry, which meant that the depth of the refrigerator could not exceed 24 inches. This led to the design and manufacture of the Sub-Zero built-in range. Consequently, many people today still associate the built-in stainless appliance look with the original and iconic Sub-Zero.

Sub-Zero Early Built In Refrigerator ad

Two in One Dual Refrigeration: In 1955, Sub-Zero introduce their fridge freezers with dual refrigeration, ensuring fridge and freezer foods are safely preserved in separate, sealed systems.

Matching Appliances: In the late 1950s, there was a high demand for kitchen appliances that were homogenous with the overall kitchen design and furniture. Designers became fascinated with the concept of a seamless ‘total kitchen’. In response, Sub-Zero pioneered some of the first appliances designed to match the cabinetry and décor of the individual home kitchen.

Furniture Integration: In the 1960s Sub-Zero continues to pave the wave the way for home appliance design. On the 1st September 1964, Sub-Zero launched a line of refrigerators that could be integrated into bar counters, dining room furniture and even living room tables.

Built-in Appliances Take the Lead: On the 1st September 1967, Built-in refrigerators become Sub-Zero’s best-selling model, comprising approximately 70% of all sales.

A Sub-Zero Built-In ad from 1966

A Sub-Zero Built-In advert from 1966

Developing the Line: Bakke’s son, Bud, works with designer Bob Kelly to improve upon all of the Sub-Zero models, sourcing better interior lighting and creating the freezer drawers that we all use today.

Family Business: In the 80s and 90s, third-generation family member, Jim Bakke, continues to lead Sub-Zero into the future. The new appliances are designed with electric controls and Sub-Zero adds wine coolers to its growing portfolio.

1998 Sub-Zero Original Print Ad – Mae West

Dual Temperature Zones: In 1999 Sub-Zero launches the 400 series a new type of wine cooler designed with two separate temperature zones. This new type of cooler designed to appeal directly to wine connoisseurs and enthusiasts.

Partnering with Wolf: The millennium marks the next chapter for Sub-Zero as the brand goes on to acquire the domestic appliance line of the Wolf Range Corporation, a leader in commercial cooking appliances since 1933. Wolf is a California-based manufacturer that is globally recognised for its professional-style ranges, cooktops, and grills for both home and commercial use.

Sub-Zero and Wolf Logos

Nasa Technology: Sub-Zero designs its latest fridges with a NASA antimicrobial air purification system.

Sub-Zero NASA Technology

Sub-Zero NASA Technology image courtesy of Sub-Zero & Wolf

Celebrating 70 Years: Sub-Zero & Wolf celebrates 70 years in style, throwing a party for its employees and guests at the elegant Dartmouth House in Mayfair.


Sub-Zero continues to set the standard for professional-grade domestic appliances and are one of only a handful luxury home appliance suppliers built with a rich heritage of performance, uncompromising craftsmanship and pioneering innovations dedicated to keeping your food fresher for longer. With so much innovation over 70 years, where does the brand go next? We take a look at their 2020 portfolio and select some of our favourites.


Sub-Zero designers and engineers continue to perfect the classic built-in line. Sub-Zero’s range of classic built-in models are available with wrapped stainless doors, LED lighting throughout, internal, or external ice/water dispensers and a choice of handle designs. Pairing the classic timeless built-in design with the same advanced food preservation technology Sub-Zero is known for. The Sub-Zero built-in line makes a statement in any kitchen willing to celebrate the design of the appliance rather than hide it within the furniture.

Extreme custom made kitchen with Sub-Zero built-In refrigerator, wine cooler and freezer.

An Extreme custom made kitchen with Sub-Zero built-in refrigerator, wine cooler and freezer.


Sub-Zero’s integrated refrigeration appliances merge seamlessly into the design of a room. By selecting custom front panels and hardware your integrated model can disappear into the decor. Integrated units fit flush with other cabinets, making integrated refrigeration as practical and beautiful in the master suite, bar, or theatre room, as in the kitchen. Sub-Zero has taken integration so seriously that they even have an integrated model approved for outdoor installations; the perfect addition to any outdoor kitchen.

Sub-Zero’s press-to-open integrated refrigerators with columns. Image courtesy of Sub-Zero & Wolf


There is no better place to store your wine than a Sub-Zero wine storage unit. Every aspect is designed to deliver better wine preservation. With Sub-Zero wine storage your wine not only looks stunning in the cherrywood-faced racks, soft lighting, and custom cabinetry, it is also protected. Sub-Zero wine preservation protects against the four enemies of wine: heat, humidity, light, and vibration. Available in a range of sizes, Sub-Zero wine units have up to three independent preservation zones, so you can store all your favourite wines in one convenient system.

Sub-Zero built-in wine storage and side by side refrigerator/freezer seen in our Extreme Design studio, Sunningdale.


For those looking for the ultimate monument to food preservation, look no further than the Sub-Zero PRO series. Sub-Zero’s PRO refrigeration represents their boldest and most iconic designs. The professional models, with their 48” wide doors finished in all stainless or stainless with glass, make the ultimate culinary design statement in any kitchen. The PRO series is designed to have expansive stainless-steel interiors with a freezer on the left and a refrigerator on the right. It is available in a choice of built-in or freestanding models and range of sizes from 36” to 48” wide.

Sub-Zero PRO CU_PRO3650G

Sub-Zero has an incredible history that started from humble beginnings and an honest idea. Sub-Zero’s approach to design, build quality and food preservation represents a benchmark for professional home kitchens. It’s why the brand continues to hold a place at the top of the luxury kitchen appliance market. Like most contemporary appliances today, Sub-Zero cooling systems can be integrated seamlessly into the interior space or they can be celebrated for their iconic stainless-steel features. Their versatility makes Sub-Zero appliances perfect for rooms beyond just the kitchen.

Sub-Zero appliances echo our very own values and we are delighted to be a long-standing partner. Sub-Zero’s relentless attention to detail, dedication to best-in-class componentry and drive for innovation make it a world leader for luxury home cooling appliances.

As official Sub-Zero and Wolf partners, we can help you to find the best appliances to suit your lifestyle and kitchen design needs. To find out more or speak with a designer, book a complimentary appointment here.