In 1986, Ron Rezek was approached with the idea of updating the 100-year-old ceiling fan. An accomplished industrial designer with notable achievements in areas from lighting and furniture to life-saving and rescue equipment, Rezek recognized the opportunity to introduce contemporary design to this previously overlooked product category.
Rezek earned his bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design and a master’s in Fine Arts in Industrial Design at UCLA. There, his professors included designers Henry Dreyfuss, Charles Eames, Niels Diffrient and Don Chadwick. While in graduate school, Rezek also worked in the offices of Frank Gehry, Deborah Sussman and Gere Kavanaugh, all of whom provided valuable influence and mentorship during his early years as a designer and entrepreneur. In 1970, when approached by Los Angeles County Lifeguard Captain, Bob Burnside, Rezek leveraged his thesis project (a study in rotational molding) to design and develop a modernized version of the rescue “can”. He founded Surf-Saving International to manufacture and distribute the iconic rescue float, known as the Burnside Buoy, which remains standard issue for lifeguards worldwide. In 1978, after the sale of Surf Saving International, he founded Ron Rezek Lighting in Culver City, CA. Inspiration had come while instructing at UCLA and ArtCenter College of Design, where Rezek’s students showed broad creativity in response to several light fixture design assignments.
With his new company, Rezek sought to apply his own brand of modern design to a collection of architectural and decorative light fixtures. Rezek’s designs were met with great appreciation, leading to a long-term partnership with (and eventual sale to) the Italian lighting firm, Artemide. In 1986, it was also one of Rezek’s students who pointed him to his next design opportunity, the ceiling fan. By way of an introduction to the student’s family who owned and operated a ceiling fan company, Rezek was called upon to develop a modern interpretation of the ceiling fan. The resulting Stratos fan was the beginning of Rezek’s long career designing and producing contemporary ceiling fans and led to the founding of The Modern Fan Co. in 1997. The Modern Fan Co. continues to operate in Ashland, OR where Rezek lives, produces wine and restores classic cars.