My first visit to Berlin, in the spring of 2008, was very memorable. Former communist East-Berlin is particularly vibrant with lots of cool retro shops and great cafés and restaurants. Our search for a good Berlin breakfast through the cold morning air brought us to Café Gorki Park , one of the oldest cafés in Berlin. The breakfast was delicious; but what really struck me was the anachronistic communist relic on their ceiling: a beautiful vintage ceiling fan shaped like a streamlined torpedo and painted in an old school hammer finish. I took a photo and with some determination managed to track down and buy a couple of these vintage “deckenfächers”, one in silver and one with a green-blue hammer finish.
The streamlined torpedo fan was built in the 1950s by the Heinke company from Zwickau in East-Germany (DDR); home of the classic Trabant car. Heinke seems to have specialised in building machines for factories in the Eastern Block; such the Heinke
“deckenfächer” is a heavy-duty device intended for industrial use. And it is a typical communist product, which were characterized by either indestructible or highly fragile poor construction. The fan itself is definitely built to last with parts cast from solid iron and aluminium, and weighing a staggering 17.5 kilograms – I had to attach it to the ceiling dismantled in parts, which was still quite a job. The housing of the original 5-speed switch is on the other end of the spectrum; made from poor quality very brittle Bakelite.
But who is the designer of this rugged yet elegant piece of communist machinery?
Height ± 40 cm | diameter ± 138 cm | 220 V | 145 Watt | 180 rpm