strategist investigates

This Purple Fan Is $20 and a Verifiable Objet d’Art

Photo: Chris Mottalini

In a recent issue of New York magazine, Design Hunting went to the Catskills, where musician Eleanor Friedberger lives with artist Michael Berryhill. The couple’s Ulster County home is the kind of eclectic, cozily furnished house you might dream of having upstate: an Yves Klein–blue kitchen, forest-green marble countertops, a circular shelving niche packed with mismatched ceramics, a retro-flower-wallpapered bathroom with Pepto-pink tiles, and plenty of brightly colored accent chairs throughout. But one thing in their home really caught our eye: a purple box fan. Unassumingly utilitarian yet shockingly purple, the fan looked as meticulously chosen as the canary-yellow rug beater hung just so against the kitchen’s blue walls. As design editor Wendy Goodman said after the shoot, “I am obsessed with that purple fan.”

The purple fan in Friedberger and Berryhill’s Catskills home. Photo: Chris Mottalini

Wanting to know more about this charming purple fan, we called up Friedberger. It turns out that the fan, which looks like it could be from the MoMA Design Store, has a much humbler origin: Walmart. “I spotted it in the display aisle. It was a Lasko, it turned out — I had one in white when I was in my 20s and didn’t have enough money for an air conditioner. When I saw the blades were purple, too, I thought, Wow, Lasko’s really doing something kind of special and cool here. The blue and the purple versions are really saturated.” When she got home and unboxed the fan, it was perfect but for one flaw: “It’s almost an absolutely perfect object except that they skimmed to save a few bucks and the handle and the dial are white. I personally would have paid twice as much for it if it had a purple handle and dial.”

Matching knobs and handles or not, the fan effectively cools the spacious living room just as well as the ceiling fans do in other rooms, and it has become a focal point. “I can’t think of another $20 object that is that useful and that capable of holding a space,” says Friedberger.

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

This Purple Fan Is $20 and a Verifiable Objet d’Art