Fanimation ceiling fans – with a sense of classics  

Fanimation is an iconic manufacturer of ceiling fans with a certain je ne sais quoi. The business does not only supply Hollywood movie sets with extraordinary fans, but also furnishes your home with creative models. 


  • Brief overview with year dates
  • Company history
  • What sets Fanimation fans apart
  • Antique Fan Museum, USA 

Brief overview with year dates

1984 marks the founding year of Fanimation, a family business established by Tom Frampton in Pasadena, California. The first models find a ready market in restaurants and the hotel industry. In 1990 the demand for ceiling fans in domestic environments quickly increases. Due to the better infrastructure the business moves to Indianapolis, Indiana in 1994. The son of the business founder officially begins to work for the company in 2001. Located in Zionsville, the business is moved to the biggest office to date in 2003. Just in time for the 20th anniversary of the company the futuristic Enigma® model is featured in the 2004 blockbuster “I, Robot“. In 2007, Nathan Frampton becomes chairman of Fanimation, while his father Tom remains as the CEO. In 2008 Fanimation offer their Indiana premises to the Antique Fan Museum. The exhibition site is relocated and re-opened in 2009. Around 2014 the Fanimation product line is expanded by modernised features such as an App and the use of DC motors. In 2016 the myFanimation Mix and Match programme is introduced (to date US-exclusive). It allows buyers to draw up their very own customised devices. In 2017 the Antique Fan Museum receives attention by the TV channel Kids Channel

Popular models on creoven:   

The “movie star“ Enigma, pedestal fan Arden, retro-style ceiling fan The EXTRAORDINAIRE

Company history  

Tom Frampton (far left) as a young man at Casablanca.

The preoccupation with ceiling fans runs like a golden threat through the life of Tom Frampton, future founder of Fanimation. In 1973 during his schooldays at age 17 he went to work for Burton A. Burton a buyer and seller of antiques that included the occasional ceiling fans.. It wasn’t long before the beginning of first oil crisis that caused a huge demand for low-priced alternatives to air conditioning systems. Ceiling fans sparked interest in customers. However, during the 70s there was next to no manufacturing industry for these products in the US. Pioneer Hunter and a few imported brands were sold in hardware stores. The market in California was almost non-existent. Mr. Burton saw an opportunity and by 1975 had founded the Casablanca Fan Company. He succeeds in freeing fans from their plain, mechanical image and develops new, contemporary models. In the early days seven Casablanca staff members produce about 50 fans per month. Burton was an entrepreneur that knew how to follow and realise sudden inspirations. On the occasion of his passing in 2003, the Malibu Times commemorate in their obituary the one time he rode to a sales talk – on the back of an elephant. A clever move to increase awareness of the brand. And it worked out just fine: the ceiling fan became popular again.

At Casablanca Tom Frampton was able to learn everything about the basics of designing ceiling fans. His free-spirited employer allowed him to turn his unconventional ideas into reality. In 1978 Frampton develops his first very own model. It stands out due to the unusual horizontal design with fan blades (palm leaves!) that move sideways and is still available today with many variations: The Punkah.    

By 1984 Tom Frampton feels that it is time to establish his own business. As a classic start-up company Fanimation is part of the traditional American business founders of the 1980s. The country’s economy was booming. Republican president Ronald Reagan revived the stock exchange and improved the standing of the Dollar during his first term alone. With a lot of confidence Frampton began developing his first three models. Nevertheless the first decade was hard, the garage doubled as a production facility. Still, Frampton never lost sight of his goal: Producing the most extraordinary ceiling fans. The memorable models became more and more famous thanks to use in hotels, bars and smaller movie sets. First private orders soon followed and marked a turning point from individual to serial production.

In order to cope with the increasing demand the company headquarters moved from South California to Indiana where the infrastructure was better. Another thing speaking in favour of Indiana was a large distribution centre that proved to be advantage. The sea route remains the same though: California still ships to the West Coast.   

Fanimation now: A glance into the office and warehouse

Over the course of just a couple years the Fanimation brand has evolved from a sole trader business into a company with 60-65 office staff members. The sales are mostly happening in stores as well as online with products being shipped to 23 countries by now. Despite the expansion the focal point continues to be quality control which has ensured the massive success. Today, the company creed is still the same as it was back then “Unique Brand, Unique Design“. The official Fanimation website points to its heritage that plays an important role in the now and in the future. This mission statement carries a lot of responsibility, on one hand for the production in South China and on the other it means dealing with the subject of new technologies.

Despite modernisation and fast-paced growth Fanimation stays a family business where spirit and personality of the founder is present at all times. However, there is room for the next generation, as well: Nathan Frampton, son of the initiator began “working“ at just 7 years old. In summers he gained experience in business life like his father before him. After successfully graduating the IUPUI’s Kelley School of Business the question was whether Nathan was going to join the company full-time. The young alumnus has his own plans and went abroad for one year. He wanted to try and find out where his interests are. The decision was made when founder Tom Frampton had to replace a purchasing agent. Nathan, who had been working in one of the stores before, decided to take the position and begin a career in his father’s business. Since 2007 Nathan Frampton is the president of Fanimation and working in the area of marketing, management and operations. Father and son make a formidable team: Tom’s main domain had always been the product itself. To this day most of the product range is based on his ideas. 

 What sets Fanimation fans apart

New ideas and quality to the smallest detail are an inherent part of Fanimation’s story of success. The special feature of this manufacturer of fans is the fusion of traditional craftsmanship and innovative, industrial serial production. The result of this wonderful symbiosis is a unique product range of ceiling fans.

During his travels all around the globe Tom Frampton receives the input for his fancy creations. The drafts for his “Treventi“ range were made on a tour through Africa. The result is a sight to be seen: blades carefully carved from wood create a unique atmosphere. Other models stand out with a first-rate processing and a certain “visual heaviness“ that really brings out the high-quality aspect. Oftentimes the blades are made of plaited natural materials like palm leaves, bamboo or sawn wood. Oak, walnut and red cherry are not uncommon in the product line and are perfect for ceiling fans with illustrious names such as the “Bourbon Street“. Housing finishes like “oil-rubbed bronze“ provide a dapper, antique look. Replaceable lamp shades made of frosted opal glass are reminiscent of coffee shops and convey a feeling of cosiness.

Streamlined and even futuristic ceiling fans with lighting form part of the catalogue as well. Despite their unobtrusive colours the white and silver models are not delicate or fragile, instead they have a full body and often decorative rounded blade holders. 

Loving details instantly turn your ceiling fan into a pirate-themed appliance. The curious monkey and swinging parrot are available as accessories. The decorative elements have been carved and painted by hand, completely consistent with the top-notch character of all Fanimation models. 

Distinctive features of Fanimation ceiling fans:

  • Upmarket equipment and selection of materials
  • Modern technology meets vintage design
  • Ideal for places of comfort: restaurants, hotels, cafés and living rooms
  • Precious, first-class natural materials, e.g. real wood
  • Whisper-quiet DC motors
  • Fancy ideas like THE PUNKAH fan
  • Useful wall controllers, sometimes included in the delivery
  • Various models can be equipped with a light kit
  • Up to six speed levels

Fanimation founder Mr. Frampton examining the high-quality motors to be used in his ceiling fans. 

Interior decorators that furnish hotels and culinary establishments prefer Frampton’s fans due to their unique “slow motion“ speed level. In this mode the fan blades rotate 25-30 times per minute. This “visual speed level“ sets a picturesque atmosphere as a visual effect in restaurants and the likes. Customer satisfaction is a priority: for instance the development of the rubber-cushioned flywheel has significantly improved the running smoothness of ceiling fans. The patented Hang Right element enables a fast and easy installation on the ceiling. By now Fanimation holds more than 400 registered patents. They keep all those at bay who try to copy these unparalleled ceiling fans. 

Naturally, Fanimation attaches great value to the primary, climatising function of the fans. Summer and winter mode can be adjusted as the situation requires and provide cooling on hot days or recover heat in winter.

Conclusion: There is simply no way getting around the Fanimation brand if you are looking for extraordinary first-rate ceiling fans.  

Antique Fan Museum, USA

The American Antique Fan Collectors Association (AFCA) has been running a museum since 1997. The collection comprises more than 1,000 samples from 160 different manufacturers. Particularly old, original, unique items or fans connected to historic events are on display. That does not only include ceiling fans with and without lighting, but all kinds of models. You can see conventional fans with impellers, models powered by steam and water, hand and pedestal fans. Around 700 private collectors make this permanent exhibition possible, Tom Frampton being part of this passionate circle. Following his invitation, the museum left its home in Wichita, Kansas in 2008 and moved into a separate part of the Fanimation head office. After reconstruction work and a re-opening in July 2009 fans of fans enjoy a guided tour by the Fanimation founder himself. Go ahead and see for yourself, students and parents have documented the experience in the Facebook Group.

Have a look at the official website of the museum

Pictures: Fanimation