Super Cool Fans

For 100 years, the small household appliance we call the fan has essentially been without modification in either form or function. But the winds of change have swept over the basic invention designed to move air around. With some high-tech tweaking and aesthetic awareness, a new flock of fans are silently smooth, consuming less energy and swirling with style.

Today’s fan A-listers not only turn heads, but really know how to circulate the room whether installed to the ceiling, table top or standing tall on the floor. Advances in technology have given fans the ability to be extremely energy efficient and do their job virtually noise-free. Some are even compatible with today’s wireless home thermostats that can be controlled from afar with a smart phone.

Regardless of the impressive state-of- the-art features and peak performance, choosing the right unit starts with correct placement in the room for maximum efficiency and even air flow. Tabletop and floor fans deliver localized airflow, whereas ceiling fans cool an overall space. Small and medium-sized rooms, such as bedrooms and kitchens with wall dimensions from 8 to 12 feet, can be adequately cooled by a 30- to 42-inch centrally located fan. Larger bedrooms, dining rooms and great rooms of 18 feet by 20 feet or more may require two or more evenly spaced ceiling fans spanning 52 inches or larger.

Ceiling height should also be taken into consideration. A flush-mount installation is appropriate for standard 8-foot ceilings, but the use of an extended down rod is necessary in rooms with ceilings higher than that or those with sloping vaults. The rule of thumb is that fan blades should be situated 8 to 9 feet above the floor for optimal air circulation.

The two main styles of fans coincide with the two most popular styles in room design: modern or traditional. They range from ultra-contemporary, to more organic forms that emulate nature, to the exact replication of some of the classic originals of the 20s through the 50s—including hipster industrial chic.


Image: Like its namesake, the Haiku is composed of three lines and is highly economical.

Poetry in Motion

One of the first smart ceiling fans, Haiku by Big Ass Fans features a new SenseME technology. The fan houses a computer and sensors that automatically monitor environmental conditions and room occupancy. It even learns user preferences and is compatible with wireless smart home thermostats.

Haiku comes in three sizes, the largest of which spans 84 inches and features airfoils made from aircraft-grade aluminum. Two handsome finishes include a sustainable bamboo or a gleaming white glass-infused composite material. Its remote control offers 10 different speed settings, one of which simulates the whoosh of a natural breeze.

Haiku’s sleek design can slip easily into a mid- century or minimalist-modern room décor.

Tower of Power

The uncanny, unconventional bladeless design of Dyson’s Tower Fan is really quite practical, bringing safety and ease-of-cleaning to the world of floor and tabletop fans. The Tower Fan uses a remarkable air multiplying technology to create a powerful stream of smooth air that consumes 40 percent less energy than blade fans and is 75 percent quieter.

The look is futuristic and could be mistaken for modern sculpture. Its black and stainless steel finishes are cool and sleek, but the stunning cobalt blue option is a show-stopper.

Fan Zen

If ceiling fans should be seen and not heard, the Aeratron A2 and A3 models corner the market on tranquility.

Inspired by nature, the Aeratron AE2 two-blade emulates the grace and aerodynamics of an avian wingspan and claims to be the most energy efficient of its kind worldwide. The AE3 three-bladed design—also organic in feel with its long, gently contoured, leaf-like foils—delivers its cool breezes with utter peace and quiet. Both are available in five attractive finishes, each giving the fluid designs a different aura. A matte white, silver or black works in graphic or monochromatic interior spaces, the warmth of a darker or lighter wood grain enhances cozier décor; both have the option to include an LED light.


Retro Cool

Few fans can charm like the VFAN, made by Vornado. They’ve been in business since 1945, clearly successful in retaining the tried-and- true classic styling and nostalgia of a bygone era. But don’t let the VFAN’s authentic vintage vibe fool you. Advances in technology has this mighty little machine delivering whole-room air circulation with the company’s signature Vortex Action, along with a full action
pivot head for multi- directional airflow.

Standing just under 14 inches tall, VFAN is perfect for table, desk or countertop. Its minty green enamel finish with contrasting brass accents pack a decorative punch and can be used to complete a fun design vignette such as nestling it next to a vintage typewriter or situating it on the laminate counter top of a 50s-inspired kitchen. 

Noteworthy Nostalgic

The Fargo by Fanimation, harkening back to the 20s business age, is a replica of the fans found on desktops in banks at that time. Not to mention, its globe-shaped cage is reminiscent of the Unisphere, the iconic structure created as the theme symbol for the 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing, Queens.

The ingenious design is also classic. Air flows in through the top of the orb then puts out a 360-degree lateral airflow to create a big, all-around breeze without mussing up the paperwork beneath it.

Its classic combinations of faux burgundy leather or oil-rubbed bronze with brushed brass accents are entirely at home in more traditional interiors. For rooms a tad more transitional, choose the satin-nickel body with chrome accents. Bonus: The Fargo has a built-in handle that makes it portable.


Image: Allaire Telescoping Floor Fan

Industrial Chic

Restoration Hardware is keen on keeping industrial design at the forefront and the Allaire Telescoping Floor Fan proves there is a well-earned place for it. The practical, no-nonsense approach boasts performance, convenience and longevity. Made from durable, heavy gauge steel, its four-propeller design maximizes airflow in a quiet, maintenance-free way. Two sizes accommodate most room dimensions with the telescoping feature to add 6 to 8 inches to its height. The Allaire’s looks will complement austere or rustic interiors such as loft or dorm space, and even a cabin style room design.

caroline wilkes

Caroline Sophia Wilkes is an interior designer who also writes about design trends. From Manhattan to Montauk, this native Long Islander derives inspiration from the dynamic forms and energy of the city to the organic serenity of our land- and seascapes.