25 August 2010

Sub-Zero/ Wolf plant tour and seminar day one: Wow.

I spent almost the entire day yesterday at Sub-Zero/ Wolf's Westye Bakke Center and at the Sub-Zero plant itself. I couldn't take photos of the production floor and although I understand the reasons why, it's an amazing place. It was heartening to see an American factory staffed with enthusiastic people who were committed to the products they make and who were treated as valuable assets by their employer. Sub-Zero's daunting reputation for high, high quality starts on that factory floor and everybody knows it. It was inspiring.

Next door to the factory is Sub-Zero/ Wolf's Westye Bakke Center, a training facility and kitchen appliance wonderland that I couldn't quit photographing.

Between their high tech, multimedia showcase auditorium and more fully connected and fully staffed kitchens than I could count, I was on sensory overload all day. Never have I eaten so much good food to absorbed so much information in a single day. Tomorrow's all about Wolf cooking so it'll be more of the same I'm positive.

Being here in Madison completes a bit of a circle for me. Six years ago, I had the honor and pleasure to meet and get to know (and work with) Bill Draper from Draper DBS. Bill Draper is a cabinet and furniture maker without peer so far as I'm concerned. He was also the first member I'd met of a very small group of kitchen and bath people who've achieved superstar status. Draper's an inspiration and he was the first person I'd ever known who encouraged me to treat my career development as a true brand development. I took his advice to heart and look at me now. Hah!

Anyhow, when I met Bill, he had just finished a big project here in Madison. It was a lounge and dining room in Sub-Zero/ Wolf's Westye Bakke Center. He showed me his drawings and showed me some photographs and I was amazed by what I saw. It was an Art Nouveau lounge featuring some of the most amazing hand carved wood I'd ever seen. At the time I thought to myself, "Man, I would kill to see that lounge in person, but I'll never get to Madison." Never say never kids. Never say never.

I spent about an hour running my hands all over the most incredible hand carved wood I'd ever seen this afternoon and I was pinching myself the whole time. Six years after having seen the plans for the place, I was finally standing in it. Here are some photos of the lounge and the formal dining room attached to it.

I really need a decent camera. Oh well.

There were two really dynamic and huge kitchens that Sub-Zero/ Wolf use for training people like me hands on. The two kitchens are adjoining and although they are done in really radically different styles, I knew immediately that they were Mick De Giulio projects and sure enough they are. Mick's another of the handful of kitchen and bath people who've achieved superstar status. I haven't met him yet but there's plenty of time.

I noticed that in the lobby and in one of the De Giulio kitchens there were some tell-tale glass sculptures that I couldn't help but recognize as Chihuly and sure enough, that's what they are. I keep running into his work. I have to admit that it took me a while to warm up to him but after having spent so much time at the Chihuly Collection at home, I'm really warming up to him as an artist.

I had some really high expectations for the Sub-Zero portion of this seminar and I wasn't disappointed int he least. Sub-Zero is best in their category by a long shot and they are that for a very good reason. Nobody does refrigeration better.

Tomorrow's all about Wolf cooking appliances and I'm looking forward to it. I get to cook my own lunch tomorrow and I'm sure it'll be the highlight of this visit. Although, strange though it may sound, I'm really looking forward to touring the Wolf factory tomorrow too. So on Wednesday morning, I'll post about my day with Wolf and I'll get some more shots of the Jamie Drake-designed portions of the Westye Bakke Center too.

So many thanks to My amazing Sub-Zero/ Wolf rep Cathy Bame for nominating me for this trip and thank you Sub-Zero/ Wolf for showing me such a good time since I arrived yesterday.

If you guys have any questions you'd like to have answered about Sub-Zero/ Wolf, ask them here in the comments or drop me an e-mail and I'll take it from there. Once again, those websites are Sub-Zero Preservation and Wolf Cooking.


  1. ohh my, Mr.Draper's 'Brasserie' is stunning.
    Very Horta. Art Nouveau interiors always make me swoon.

  2. Great article Paul...boy what a lucky guy you are!

  3. Gorgeous photos! I'd love to hear about what Wolf is developing...

  4. Wow! This sounds like an amazing time. Sub-Zero is one of my favorite products to spec. Can't wait to see more. Sue

  5. Hmmm, I think I need to talk to my local rep. Beautiful. *grin*

  6. Enjoyed the tour - especially the lounge. That hand-carved wood is very cool indeed! And, has sort of a Deco feel. Nice to hear that Sub-Zero is an American company working with a team of committed folks to achieve excellence in what they do. That's powerful "brand building" too!

    I love that window behind the high-back booth-style seats next to the fireplace.

    Lucky you for getting to see it in person. Lucky us that you shared it. Thanks!

  7. I love that Art Nouveau lounge! There's something very organic about AN design and this room really flows well.

  8. What is the difference between/among SubZero and Liebherr and Miele? I am about to do a kitchen addition and my designer prefers Miele, but hasn't really said why. I like Liebherr because of their commitment to the environment, but I hear mixed reviews regarding durability, etc.
    Also, it will be great to hear why a Wolf is the best range after your visit tomorrow.

  9. Subzero and Wolf are a true commitment to excellence, every single one of their products are tested before they leave the factory. I had the opportunity in June to go to the factory tour, and the most amazing Westye Bakke Center. What could be more green than buying American?

  10. What? They do cooking and baking there onsite? I'll have to be way nicer to you next time! Don't forget my 6 red stove knobs or I'll weep uncontrollably! Have fun making the lunch. I LOVE Wolf. Please fondle their nice stoves for me!

  11. Now I really want to visit the Sub Zero/Wolf Plant. Stunning! I have always owned Sub Zero Refrigerators in my homes. My Firm always recommended Wolfe/Sub Zero. Enjoy Paul, so enjoyed this post!

  12. Susan, Laura, Julie, Sue, Kelly, Bill, Wolfie, Anon, Patti, and Noir: Thanks for your comments! These last couple of days have been amazing and I picked up more material to write about in the future than I ever thought possible! Thanks for reading along with my big Wisconsin adventure.


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