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Valby Mid-Century Modern ceiling fan inspired by the 1950s

The Valby modern ceiling fan is inspired by Mid-Century design elements, from pendant lights to audio equipment. Designer Alex Haggar shares more about the inspiration behind this modern ceiling fan.

I wanted to create a ceiling fan that was truly Mid-Century inspired; something that would believable if it was dropped into a book about 1950s design.

But in the 1950s, ceiling fans were still very traditional. The idea of a modern ceiling fan wasn’t realized or made widely available until the 1980s. So, when designing this Mid-Century inspired ceiling fan, I asked myself, “What would a Danish modern ceiling fan ceiling fan look like? What would an American 1950s modern ceiling fan look like?”

Close up of the Valby mid century modern ceiling fan with light

I was very much inspired by pendant lighting form that era, and the shape of the blades is reminiscent of tapered legs on wooden furniture. Audio equipment from the 60s was also a huge inspiration, as that was another budding Mid-Century industry that was becoming design-focused at the time. The Valby ceiling fan takes elements from a lot of vintage products, but unites them to create something that feels current.

Every detail of Valby has a Mid-Century reference right down to the radial slots on top of the fan that serve as vents for the motor.

The finishes we chose for this fan are finishes that were prevalent in 1950s an 1960s design, but aren’t limited to Mid-Century inspired spaces. The Matte Black and Fresh White finishes are Mid-Century staples that will also work in almost any casual space. The Matte Nickel finish is a little bit more formal, and can be used in spaces with luxe details.

Alex Haggar is an Industrial Designer for Casablanca Fan Company. 

The Valby indoor ceiling fan has a 54-inch blade span, perfect for large spaces like bedrooms, living rooms and offices. It’s available in three finishes with reversible veneer blades that allows you to customize the look of your ceiling fan and space. 

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The Casablanca Fan Company Trend Report

What’s on the horizon for home décor? Insights into the latest and greatest in colors, materials and more.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO MIX IT UP

Minimalism is being replaced by a more complicated look. Mixed media is going to be everywhere in the near future. It’s almost as though there’s no limit to how many different materials and textures can be combined—even in a single piece. This is very exciting, but when you’re going for that effect, you do have to ask yourself: How much is enough? And how much is too much? Let’s look at what this mixed-media approach can mean across a range of design elements.

 

A MYRIAD OF TEXTURES AND MATERIALS

Nature has perhaps never inspired us more than it does today, and I’m seeing that influence expressed in a lot of organic, amorphous shapes and wavy, energetic lines. Uneven rims, bent wood, outer shells with unexpected flexibility—rigid materials are being crafted into fluidic structures. Diverse materials are at the forefront of design, and in terms of texture, it’s all about unevenness.

“Here at Casablanca, trend research is one of the most important things we do. It’s also great fun. But remember, following trends doesn’t mean being a follower. There are no rules in home décor—just a few guidelines and a lot of great ideas. Above all, what sparks your imagination is what matters. Figure out what inspires you—and then bring that vision to life.”

LIVE AND LET LUSTER

Luster is big—including luster and matte used together—and there’s also a great deal of glitter, sequins, crystals and lacquer being used to redefine surfaces. We’re going to see a lot high-gloss finishes on wood, along with metallic shine used with various materials such as textiles, ceramic, wood and glass. Gold is taking precedence over copper and bronze. So what about colors? Warm greens, soft browns and grays, complex blues, oranges and yellows will dominate.

The next big thing? Expect the unexpected

To sum up, the next big thing in home décor is what I’d call a “New Traditional” style. And what I mean by that is, bringing modernity to the traditional. This is largely achieved by creating classic shapes with unexpected materials—acrylic, concrete, marble, paper (materials that look like paper but aren’t)—thus making the familiar seem suddenly avant-garde. Even people who typically prefer a contemporary look should find certain aspects of this style attractive.

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The Heathridge Story: Making a Masterpiece

No Casablanca ceiling fan better exemplifies the perfect synergy of innovation, artistry and craftsmanship than the Heathridge. Quite simply, it is a masterpiece among the exceptional. This is the story of how it came to be, from inception to completion.

The Heathridge began with an idea for fan housing that—initially, at least—seemed almost basic: a housing made of wood. Real wood that, according to Christophe, “would celebrate the rustic, but still be versatile enough to go with a range of decors.”

But the logistics of using real wood for a fan housing proved challenging indeed. Christophe ordered various types of wood. He cut and carved this way and that. He cross-sectioned large chunks and explored how a fan motor might fit inside them. And of course, he consulted with his design team, with Casablanca engineers and with people outside the world of ceiling fans. After a time, however, the jury was in: “A wood housing just wasn’t going to work,” said Christophe. But that didn’t mean giving up. When Casablanca designers have an artistic vision, they find a way to bring that idea to life.

The most important aspect of his vision was to create a particular look with the wood grain itself, so Christophe made certain decisions based around that objective. Inspired in part by the long-weathered condition of wooden fences—the kind you can still find out in the rural West—Christophe knew that such a look simply couldn’t be imitated by drawing it. “The best way to imitate nature is not to copy it,” said Christophe, “but to use nature itself.” He would have to carve the wood, create a weathered look somehow—and then make a cast of it.

The first step was to sculpt the wood into the shape of the housing. He did so by hand-turning it on a lathe, then wire-brushing the wood to create deeper grooves. The next step required true innovation: How to weather the wood in a way that replicated decades of exposure to sun, wind, ice and rain? The solution involved “opening” the grain, eroding the inherently softer aspects of the wood (as would occur in a natural weathering process) while retaining the harder elements to accentuate the grain’s peaks and valleys. He then used different finishes to make that contrast and depth even more pronounced. With the faux finish perfected, the wood housing could be cast and molded out of a more resilient composite.

Christophe’s vision for the Heathridge was far from complete, however. What about the blades? Here again, Christophe wanted to use solid wood—not a laminate overlay. He did just that, hand carving the planks and opening the grain as he had with the housing. The ultimate challenge, though, was figuring out how to make the housing match the blades. They were, after all, made of different materials. After months of experimentation with different finishes, Christophe was satisfied. And the Heathridge was born.

Today, the Heathridge speaks to people as it spoke to Christophe from the beginning. There is a quality you can feel in the weight of the carved blades alone, but there is something else. Perhaps it is the fan’s nod to a more pastoral past while stepping exultantly into the present. The look of seasoned wood that has endured the elements over time and, rather than being forgotten, has become cherished.

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How The Casablanca Design Team Stays Inspired

Inspiration is everywhere.

One of the basic tenets of the group is that inspiration is everywhere—just there for the taking—if you’re open to it. “You have to allow yourself that openness—openness to the magic,” said Christophe Badarello, design director at Casablanca. “I think it’s really an openness to your mind, to your heart, to what’s around you. I think that’s how I would define creativity.”

For Christophe and his team, preparedness is the other half of the equation. As artists, they’re trained to take in their surroundings at all times—and keep a sketchbook handy. “Even in the car,” said Christophe, “I might see an interesting hub cap when I’m stopped at a light, and that will give me an idea.” He’ll start drawing right then and there. (And, he admits, sometimes rely on the cars behind him to let him know when the light changes.) Of course, the flip side of being on high alert for inspiration is the need to tune out once in awhile. Every creative, Christophe said, “needs a time of quietness to let the mind rest.”

Collaboration is key.

Individual inspiration only goes so far. Collaboration—and yes, sometimes the friendly butting of heads—is what helps transition ideas from good to great. This emphasis on collaboration includes people outside the Casablanca team as well. The designers especially enjoy working with other artisans—blacksmiths and glassblowers, for example—for the unique perspective that comes only through an in-depth knowledge of a craft. “When somebody works with a material such as glass their whole life,” said Christophe, “they will have some way of looking at that channel that I could never could.”

Sometimes it’s in the hands, not the head.

Christophe also stresses the importance of working three dimensionally as a source of inspiration. That’s why, after sketch iterations, the design team spends so much time carving. Carving and sculpting “almost uses another part of your brain,” Christophe said. “When you take a piece of sandpaper and actually create lines of movement with your hands—when you think, ‘What would happen if I move my hand to the left?’ and then you do, you discover another dimension.” Working in 2-D with a computer and a mouse just doesn’t allow for spontaneous curves and lines of movement. “So by experimenting, not just with your mind, but physically,” said Christophe, “you push the limits further.”

Knowing your history, knowing your “now.”

Inspiration is also part trendspotting and part historical research—because you can’t break new ground if you don’t know what’s come before. It’s looking into adjacent categories—from fashion to architecture—and striking a balance between what’s artistically relevant from the past and what’s on trend today.

The importance of technology can’t be overlooked, either. “Technology is often thought of as a constraint to design and creativity, and sometimes it can be,” said Christophe, “but technology can also give way to exciting new ideas and concepts.” We need only look to the ceiling fan’s evolution itself as proof: in its earliest form, the ceiling fan was just a utilitarian machine that moved air. It wasn’t considered an element of décor, and lighting wasn’t even on the horizon yet. Today, however, the ceiling fan has evolved to become, according to Christophe, “more of a light that also moves air.” As far as the Casablanca design team is concerned, therefore, the way we think about ceiling fans—and what they’re capable of—will keep changing. And that means no end to inspired possibilities.

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8 New Designs. 1 World-Class Collection.

This unique conglomeration of designs is representative of an array of lifestyles, passions and attitudes.

These pieces are not just ceiling fans – they are centerpieces for any room in your home. Each has been handcrafted thoughtfully, carefully, meticulously. For the 2016 Casablanca Collection, our designers allowed their imaginations to run wild, gathering inspiration from places as far off as the constellations, or as nearby as an orchid in bloom. These fans were designed to serve as a focal point that inspires a room’s entire look and feel.

Casablanca Orchid small modern ceiling fan in a small modern farmhouse living room
Every etch and brush stroke, brimming with human touch, preserves the beautiful imperfections that maintain the authentic detail that went into the original design. We treasure the experience of bringing these designs to life –the initial burst of inspiration, the raw, unfiltered sketches, the vigorous engineering process – making the inside of these fans match the beauty of the outside, and finally, the immeasurable satisfaction that comes from looking at the final product for the very first time.

The 2016 Casablanca Collection is for the bold and the fearless. These ceiling fans can serve as the focal point that inspires a room’s entire look and feel, or they can be the final thought that ties everything together. Whatever the purpose, we are confident that you will find your perfect match for your home here, with Casablanca.

Discover the 2016 Casablanca Collection.

Casablanca Stingray modern ceiling fan sketch

An Ocean of Innovation: Creating the Stingray

With sleek and flowing aesthetics, Casablanca’s latest fan, the Stingray, seemingly captures a snapshot of aquatic motion.

It’s not hard to see where the inspiration came from. It might be harder to imagine designers at one point using duct tape, cardboard and a coffee can to construct such an elegant fan.

“It’s very crude, but it was a way to figure out how the blade went into the housing,” said Casablanca Designer Christine Holmes.

Sketches of the Casablanca Fan Company Stingray modern ceiling fan with light

It’s all part of the creative process. Holmes shared the Stingray began as a simple elevated sketch before evolving into a rough model and a clay model. She shared creating a fan, especially one as unique as the Stingray, can be a lengthy but collaborative effort.

“We’re riffing off of each other, we’re talking to each other, we’re putting things down and someone’s picking it up,” she said, “There’s some designs even as a group they’re easier than others; there was a lot of work to make this vision happen.”
A 3D model was later printed for the Stingray design. This allowed the designers and Casablanca’s engineers to take apart the pieces to see where the insides – the motor, LED light and fan blades — could fit. This meant some changes to the initial Stingray design’s leaner housing.

“The question was what happened inside there,” said Holmes, “When you do something that extreme and exotic, there’s a lot more configuration that goes into it.”

Compared to the initial sketch, the Stingray’s housing evolved into something larger following these design meetings. However, throughout the process designers and engineers made sure the clean, sleek design concept kept constant.

There are no visible screws or fasteners; the absence of color also helps emphasize the Stingray’s elegance and simplicity. It’s an uncompromising fan perfect for formal and contemporary spaces.

Casablanca Stingray white modern ceiling fan with light in modern living room loft

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Duluth engineers effortless industrial and modern design

Mechanical yet modern, Casablanca’s Duluth ceiling fan draws inspiration from an era of factories, locomotives and the original automobile.

This industrial ceiling fan features prominent vintage-inspired rivets that secure the motor to the switch housing cap reminiscent of more modern machinery.

“This fan draws some inspiration from airplanes with the exposed rivets, a lot of times on wings you see exposed screws,” said  Casablanca Designer Alex Haggar, “The bottom of the fan – that cap – is very reminiscent of an engine turbine so in a way that plays into the industrial side but still has a vintage feel.”

Accentuating the industrial details is an unexpected finish for a ceiling fan: galvanized steel.

“Galvanized is typically used as a functional, protective thing,” said Haggar, “Galvanized is typically used on outdoor applications but I think in this case it works as a compliment to the very industrial design.”
Casablanca Duluth industrial ceiling fan in modern industrial living room loft
Keeping the industrial feel but adding a more modern, sleek look, the outdoor version of the Duluth is finished in a fresh white galvanized steel.

“The cool thing about Duluth is it’s a bit of a chameleon because it could fit with a very modern loft but also fit in a more rustic outdoor space. It’s a bit of style chameleon,” said Haggar.

The Duluth is a low maintenance addition to room design, even fitting in spaces with minimal furniture. The fresh white finish is ideal for contemporary spaces while the galvanized steel finish is an effortless addition to an industrial inspired space.

Add the Duluth to your inspired space by finding it at your nearest showroom

For industrial design, the key is utilizing natural elements in the space – exposed beams and brick, for example – and adding vintage details like an antique spotlight and worn textiles similar to the room the Duluth is featured in.

Casablanca Duluth white industrial ceiling fan in a large modern patio
“With vintage industrial it can be overdone,” said Haggar, “It works best when vintage industrial pieces are being used as an accent as opposed to every single piece in the room being vintage industrial.”

We put the galvanized steel Duluth in a room with furniture featuring modern furniture but with a worn-in look. The damp rated fresh white Duluth, however, designers placed in a room with furniture and textiles that play to the contrasting finishes on the contemporary fan.

“The white and black of the fan fits with the contrast you’re seeing with the dark stone paired with these bright white couches and chairs,” said Haggar, “In this instance the galvanized might feel a little out of place. Here the more clean black and white color option plays to a more modern space. “

The Duluth in galvanized steel and fresh white finishes are both available to purchase in a 60 inch size or a 72 inch size, making it the perfect centerpiece for your great rooms and patios.

Living room with a pink sofa

Blush: Decorating with the hottest new neutral

Rose gold is a stunning trend that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but it is morphing into a natural trend progression: Blush.

“What’s interesting about the rose gold is I see men and women carrying around the rose gold. It’s not just a feminine color,” said Christine Holmes, Casablanca Fan Company Designer.

Blush is a whisper of pink, in contrast to the bright bubblegum pink that normally comes to mind. It’s a sophisticated pop color for those who want to keep a tonal look in the space.

“It almost reads as neutral. That was the secret to the mint: It’s not overwhelming, in your face; it’s super subtle,” said Claire McRoberts, Casablanca Fan Company Designer.

From full on tone-on-tone to subtle accents, decorating with blush is what you make of it.

“It can play both parts: I think it’s a really nice accent – we’ve seen it on a lot of accessories – but I think you could go pink couch, paint a wall pink, throw a copper lamp in there,” said Alex Haggar, Casablanca Fan Company Designer.

From contemporary to sophisticated, complete the look of your space with a Casablanca ceiling fan.