These Ain't Your Mother's Ceiling Fans

I'm just going to get right to the point - not every home in America has air conditioning.  That goes doubly for those of us here in Southern California who might only actually use A/C three times a year. This last week I met with a developer building a series of houses on spec.  The premise of our meeting was to give a critique of the initial home, still in the framing stages, so as to make modifications to render it more desirable to a potential buyer.  The suggestions weren't huge but one in particular that I mentioned was including a junction box at ceiling's center in all three bedrooms so that the buyer could install a ceiling fan at a later date if (s)he wished. The real estate agent turned to me and asked if I felt ceiling fans were a litttle "low-brow".

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So with that let me just say... if you're building a house or commercial space where a) you're paying little attention to the dynamics of air flow and have little chance of picking up an actual draft and b) you're not including air conditioning in the final product then a ceiling fan becomes less of a "maybe we'll put these in but we don't have to" and more of a "duh" type of thing. Seriously, if you have no mode of moving the air around your space, be it natural or mechanical, you run the risk of having stagnant air.

I think the initial apprehension to the ceiling fan is that we're all so used to the hundreds hanging from a metal rack at our Big Box retailer (more on those guys later) and we all know that those puppies aren't necessarily from the best bunch in the box. So just for you.... since I like you guys... a few fun fans that are just plain cool.

1. Isis by Big Ass Fans

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I'm just going to say it - what is not cool about these big metal propellers?  They're so cool that the blades aren't even called blades, they're called airfoils. And they live up to their name too....the Isis edition (their SMALLER fan) starts at 8 feet in diameter. That's right kids.... 8 feet.  Those airfoils are some 43 inches in minimum length. Try fitting that in your cart at Lowes.  Aside from their size, I do love that Big Ass Fans (just imagine telling people you have a Big Ass Fan...It is ok to curse just this once) is that they've put serious thought into their designs - those wings at the end serve a purpose and they have some great custom options including wood airfoils (think 1930's prop plane).

2. Mistral Pendant Light with Fan by Moooi Works

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I think the biggest objection to a ceiling fan is that you can't hide those damn blades.  They're so there, in your face, hovering below your ceiling like a scene from Honey I Shrunk the Kids (did you know that title is grammatically incorrect?  Just food for thought) and some really big weedeater (or maybe lawn mower... whatever really, it's your nightmare).  Why can't we hide those things?  Someone finally tried.  The crazy designers at Moooi Works (the same group that brought you charred Victorian furniture and a horse with a lampshade) combined the ceiling fan with the simple single shade pendant to bring you the Mistral Pendant Light, a 22.4 inch diameter fixture combining a PVC laminate shade, chrome interior, MDF blades and a glass diffuser to not only hide the dreaded ceiling fan but also bring a little modern light into your life.  This is one of those fixtures I can totally see over someone's Tulip Table doing double duty.  Available from YLighting

3. Bianca Directional Ceiling Fan by Matthews Fan Company

[caption id="attachment_68" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Retro Industrial meets Eco Chic - you simply can't go wrong."]Add an Image[/caption]

Hello, my name is Brandon and I like vintage.  Phew, like a weight off my back.  Vintage, Retro, Antique... call it what you may, there is something to be said about the designs of yore and how well they can be tied into contemporary decor.  Even more so, how can you resist that turn of the century, industrial charm so inherent with the machinery of Post World War I? Matthews figured that out too and came up with these petite relics of the 30s and 40s. I'm loving them personally, not only because they are a mere 13 inches in diameter but also because their construction includes cast aluminum, spun steel and marbelized bakelite (shut up!  I know!).  Oh yeah, those blades?  ecologically harvested mahogany so you can feel good too.  Quick... you know you want them.  While you're at it, stop by their website and check out the Jarold and Diane directionals as well. Available from Ylighting

4. Air by Giulio Gianturco

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Along the same lines as the Bianco (but with a much different price tag) is the Air, designed by Giulio Gianturco for Boffi.  Sure, it looks simple, its parts are exposed, and there are only three blades.  But seriously, what makes this one great is that it IS simple, its parts are exposed, and there are only three blades.  Even though the Air is an inherently modern piece of Italian art that suspends delicately from your ceiling (and is bound to make it appear that you have way too many pieces of furniture and that none of them are from Roche Bobois or Ligne Roset), it screams little Post War Industrial to me with the laminated wood blades and stainless steel finish, like something I could hang over my Factory20 vintage finds (or the Ferrari California I have tucked into my wildest dreams).  It is definitely the most expensive of my list but I think in the right space, it would be entirely worth it!  And the extras?  Well a five speed motor and an infra-red control.  Available from Boffi; click on link to find nearest showroom.

5. Ostrich by the Woolen Mill Fan Company

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Yes guys, I'm not completely a modernist and realize that even Antebellum Plantations and New York Walk Ups need fans too.  Which is why I totally had to show off the Ostrich fan by Pennsylvania company Woolen Mill Fan Company.  So I know I said that these were not your mother's fan but this might definitely have been your Grandmother's fan.   Here's the deal - these creatures are cast and machined by Amish craftsman in iron, aluminum or bronze with solid mahogany blades.  Although most of the fans available from Woolen Mill are of the belt and pulley type (read: leather belts and a remote motor) this particular fan uses a direct drive motor that you mount above the ceiling plane (ventilate please!) so that you don't see it.  These are the real deal. From Woolen Mill Fan Company

So there you have it... no more complaints that you can't find a decent ceiling fan.