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Ceiling Fans

You’ve come a long way, baby!

Isis by Big Ass Fans

Let’s be honest, ceiling fans have often posed a dilemma for those who want to be both style-conscious and practical in their homes. With a reputation for being unattractive and unsophisticated, yet highly practical and energy efficient, ceiling fans might be necessary but they don’t often get a lot of style points. Don’t sweat it, though, because the winds of change have blown in new ceiling fan styles that are worthy of being the focal point of any room.

It all started when…

The first ceiling fans in the U.S. were introduced in the 1860s and ran on a system of running water with a turbine. A few of these are still in use in the southern United States in restaurants and commercial buildings. Then in 1882 the first electric-powered fans were made from motors adapted from Singer sewing machines. By World War I, most ceiling fans were manufactured with four blades instead of the original two. Besides making fans quieter, this change allowed them to circulate more air, thereby making more efficient use of their motors.

By the 1920s, ceiling fans had become commonplace in the United States, and had started to take hold internationally; however, during the Great Depression, ceiling fans were out of vogue in the U.S., and by the end of World War II ceiling fans had become almost non-existent, and remained that way into the 1950s. In the 1960s, some East Asian manufacturers started exporting their ceiling fans to the United States. They caught on slowly at first, and although they lacked style they found great success during the energy crisis of the late 1970s, since ceiling fans consume far less energy than air conditioning units.

The rest is history, as they say, and you can see the entire history of ceiling fans and desk fans at the American Fan Collectors Association Museum. The museum is located at the Fanimation Company’s facility in Zionsville, Indiana, and contains more than 450 antique ceiling and desk fans from over 140 manufacturers.

Styles that will blow you away

Today, manufacturers are proving that the sky is the limit when it comes to high style in ceiling fans. The San Francisco ceiling fan by Minka Aire, characterized by the simplicity of its bold, clean lines, was the winner of design awards from the Chicago Athanaeum Museum of Architecture and the International Interior Design Association. The Artemis ceiling fan, which is available in nine colors, also makes a striking design statement with graceful and fluid blades that wrap around to form the housing of the fan.

According to the Trend Watch, manufacturers are offering fans that are more versatile, accommodate small spaces, and range from two-bladed styles to modern Asian and beach-inspired designs. Colleen McCracken, director of merchandising for says, “We’re seeing a lot of two-bladed fans. They’re as efficient as a 4- or 5-bladed fan, and while it might seem that these are a more contemporary structure for a ceiling fan, they come in a lot of different styles.” For ultimate flexibility, the Multimax fan from Fanimation can be used with or without a light and easily changed from 2, 3 or 4 blades with reversible sides for a choice of finish.

Fan Museum photo courtesy of Fanimation

Big what?!

For oversized foyers, lofts, conservatories and great rooms, the Isis from Big Ass Fans may be just the right fit. Big Ass Fans is the leading manufacturer of huge ceiling fans for industrial and commercial settings and offers Isis as their residential solution for rooms that need a “serious air moving machine.” The Isis is precision built using industrial components, and boasts a circulation rate equivalent to nine standard ceiling fans that can be felt from floor to ceiling and wall to wall, but at a monthly operating cost of less than pennies per day.

Airing it out

Abby Mays, lighting consultant for Central Light in Cincinnati, says the majority of lighting plans for new homes built in Cincinnati include ceiling fans for the great room and master bedroom. She points to Minka Aire’s 3-blade Concept fan as one of the top choices by her customers for its transitional look and mid-range price. For those who want a light kit on their fan, Abby offers this reminder: “The Department of Energy has regulated the wattage allowed on light kits to a maximum of 180 watts. This means that even if you decide to push the limit with higher wattage bulbs, light limiters have been placed on the light kits and automatically shut the light off when it exceeds the 180 watt limit. Some manufacturers are now offering fans with fluorescent lights to provide more lumens.”

Looking good at last

It appears that ceiling fans not only have a long history, but they are also here to stay. To that end, manufacturers have gone to great lengths to provide consumers with incredible styles that could literally become the artwork that hangs from the ceiling. With options and styles so numerous, the choices in fans could make your head spin.


To see this article as it appeared in the magazine, please visit our Digital Edition, pages 35-38.


Mar 3, 2014 09:35 pm
 Posted by  backlash

I would like to add another modern fan to this collection of unique fans , which i personally have - its the Blow ceiling fan by an italian company called Luceplan - available from this retailer -

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