Taking Flight: A Dose of Brazilian Design Lifts the Ceiling Fan to New Heights
Designer Ron Rezek forged a path as an entrepreneur early on in his career. After earning his MFA in industrial design at UCLA—where he studied under the likes of Henry Dreyfuss, Charles Eames, and Neils Diffrient and worked in Frank Gehry’s office—Rezek segued from presenting his thesis project on rotational molding to redesigning the rescue buoy used by lifeguards. That’s right—the iconic devices carried by the heroes of Baywatch were a Rezek innovation, and are still standard issue for lifeguards today. Next, inspired by his time teaching and learning as an instructor at UCLA and ArtCenter College of Design, Rezek pursued lighting design. In the mid-’80s his minimalist products caught the attention of Italian lighting firm Artemide, which continues to produce Rezek’s creations.
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In 1986, a client requested a modern ceiling fan from Rezek, pointing him toward his next endeavor. "I had never owned a fan, used a fan, or lived in a room with a fan," recalls Rezek. "It was really a clean sheet of paper." At the time, designs still borrowed flourishes from the Victorian era. Says Rezek, "There were things in the product that were awkward and contrary to balance and smooth operation, so I made those changes, going for a modern look." The result was the Stratos fan, which features a sphere on a structural rod and slim, plywood blades that attach to a single-piece rotor crafted from die-cast aluminum. It was a revolutionary moment in ceiling fan design, and one that led to the founding of The Modern Fan Company in 1997.
Headquartered in Ashland, Oregon, The Modern Fan Company has continued to develop a product line that emphasizes simple mechanics, geometric forms, and contemporary finishes. This year, the pioneering brand is releasing the IC/Air series, a collaboration with Brazilian designer Guto Indio da Costa. Boasting a six-speed DC motor and a die-cast aluminum construction, the new fan signals a shift towards LED solutions as well. "It’s an evolution," says Rezek. "It’s a building block of our collection and an advancement of our look and technology."
"I was in search of a design that could convey the idea of high performance and precision," says Indio da Costa. Taking into consideration the proportion of the blades and how they were integrated, he took inspiration from the wings of an eagle: seen from the side, the IC/Air series mimics a bird in flight. "That w-shaped profile was a perfect solution to structure the blades and make them look long, elegant, and slender," he says. The fan was originally designed for the Brazilian market, but the partnership between Indio da Costa and The Modern Fan Company has produced a larger version built out of the highest-quality material and integrating the latest DC motor and LED technology.
Indio da Costa describes the fan as "the sum of a certain Brazilian sensuality and a Swiss precision." Indeed, the combination of a slender, fluid profile and perfectly-fitted craftsmanship in the new IC/Air series adds even more momentum to the company that led the charge in modern ceiling fan design.