Outdoors If you want to continue to enjoy your outdoor space as the temperature rises, something a little more evolved than an old-fashioned ceiling fan is necessary.
Cool it through the summer
The heavy swish-swish of the old-fashioned ceiling fan, redolent of exotic 1950s verandas in all manner of films noirs and Ernest Hemingway vignettes is certainly the most iconic, most glamorous way to stay cool. But in truth? It's not actually so cooling. If you want to continue to enjoy your outdoor space as the temperature rises, something a little more evolved is necessary. The ever-increasing heat means that neither the old-fashioned fan nor its classic alternative - simple shade achieved via a canopy or parasol - cut it when it's edging 40C and pushing ever upwards. Luckily, modern technology provides several answers - many of them, thankfully, rather chic.
Much of your choice depends on whether you like or loathe humidity; many systems now rely on moisture, dispersed through a misting system, as their method of cooling. If you detest humidity (and its hairstyle-wrecking properties) you might prefer the power of wind - although it should be noted that today's good misting systems will exude only the finest spray of water and nothing that could cause any detectable degree of saturation.
Modern outdoor cooling and misting systems can be used anywhere they're needed, from palaces to mosques, oilfields to aviaries and airports, and adjusted to time and place as necessary. The US-based company, Mist & Cool, began in California but is now in Dubai as a subsidiary of The Cool Group; its clients include Burj Dubai, Al-Wathba Endurance Stables, Dubai International airport, the Grand Mosque in Mecca and the past three summer Olympic Games. And if you thought the jets of cooling mist that continually stream out over the exit at Dubai International were a new point of civic excess, remember that public-service misting and cooling began and still continues in Palm Springs, California.
As Mist & Cool points out, water-based evaporative cooling is both centuries-old and the most natural way to cool the air, using water's natural ability to extract heat from the air as it evaporates - basic physics that can now be adapted to any project and to the residential scale and needs, without using freons or other chemicals. The more efficient the evaporation, the better the cooling and Dubai-based Green Sense has developed DryMist, an evaporative cooling system that is flexible enough to be used all over your outdoor space. It increases the water's ability to evaporate by forcing dispersion into an even greater number of droplets (the more droplets, the greater the evaporation).
It can be used as much or as little as you wish. Static, fixed lines can be installed around the edge of the garden or terrace, or even on the inner brim of a swimming pool. Cooling lines can be attached to awnings and canopies and even can be used to add moisture to your garden while they cool: just entwine the hoses through your plants. For areas that get extra-hot, such as those close to barbecues, the company's FrostFan increases the mist's cooling effect in semi-enclosed areas of 20 to 70 square metres.
Typically, outdoor misting and cooling systems can be adjusted to the size and scale of the space concerned, and will lower the temperature by 10 to 15 degrees - enough to dramatically transform outdoor environments here and extend the use of your balcony, garden or terrace throughout the summer. If you don't think the discreet but undeniably functional-looking lines of a modern misting system are compensated for by their cooling power, it's still possible to have the romantic look of the old-fashioned swish-swish with non-antiquated efficiency. Fan Galleries, based in Queensland, Australia, will export its custom-made fans to the UAE, and there's not a hose or nozzle in sight. Almost all the designs are electric and based on traditional fan designs, and each model can be made in a choice of sizes and textured finishes. The Punkah, for instance, features blades that look like leaves and run along a wire, waving back and forth, like a leaf in the wind and is ideal for a semi-enclosed outdoor space.
The cult Dutch designer Maarten Baas's Wind fan channels the look of those chrome floor fans that were a staple of 1930s offices, but are reworked with spindly-looking (though actually sturdy) legs - and finished in chrome-glazed industrial clay applied over a metal skeleton. To work outside all it needs is an extension cable and a corner of a balcony to itself: its wind power is surprisingly potent.
Plastic fans don't just look dull and homogenised - they usually look wrong against natural hues and textures. Instead, try timber or woven-effect blades, which evoke balmy, tropical nights. The Islander collection from Fan Galleries is inspired by a palm leaf - "nature's original fan", as the company points out. And if you really want to evoke the weathered charm of Our Man In Havana, or a Bogart balcony-moment in Casablanca, The Ceiling Fan Company, based in Dubai, has just the thing. Its Outdoor Elements fan in raw aluminium is, a spokesman says, not only able to "stand up to Mother Nature's worst" - but its reversible, wicker and palm frond-style blades are coated in an aluminium finish that's designed to age gracefully to a patina that's both elegant and interesting. And, hopefully, glamorously evocative.
? Mist and Cool Middle-East: www.mistcool.ae; Green Sense: www.greensense.ae; Maarten Baas: www.maartenbaas.com; The Ceiling Fan Company: www.theceilingfancompany.com; Fan Galleries: www.fangalleries.com.au * Emily Davies