Inside the Screen: How Mad Men Became a Mid-Century Modern Icon
Get your best tweed suit, your knee-length skirt and your old pack of cigarettes, because you are about to enter the fabulous 60s! A period best known for the rise of TV, commercials, the three martini lunches, and the nonstop cigarette smoking, the 60s were also one of the most important eras for the mid-century modern design and architecture. And there will never be another tv show that best depicts the highs and lows of this period than the epic AMC’s Mad Men. Across the seven seasons of this real-life time capsule from the world of 1960’s advertising in New York, we got to know Don Draper, the former creative director at Sterling Cooper & Partners. And today we are showing you how Mad Men ended up becoming one of the biggest mid-century modern icons of the latest years!
Meet Don Draper, a former creative director of Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency who rose up to become a partner of Sterling Cooper & Partners, and the series charming main protagonist with a double identity and a long history of infidelity. So far you can see how this has everything to work out. And the truth is that it did. The series ran for seven seasons and ultimately became an icon of mid-century modern design. But this was not always the case, and in 1999 when the series creator Matthew Weiner finished his first script, “there was still this feeling that mid-century was bad.” However, everything changed when Weiner, production designer Dan Bishop and set decorator Claudette Didul conceived the mid-century heaven we are now familiar with down to the most intricate detail.
Production designer, Dan Bishop was responsible for everything visual other than cinematography. He was able to build ground-up spaces as well as turning existing spaces into incredible period pieces. On the other hand, Claudette Didul, the set decorator, handled all the other details that brought the spaces into reality closer together with the audiences.
From the home interior sets to the office sets, the East Coast mid-century vibe is everywhere. Yes, because creator Matthew Weiner made sure to differentiate the East Coast mid-century interior design with the one from the West Coast, usually most connected with the relaxed and glamorous lifestyle of Palm Springs. For that reason, Don and Betty Draper’s Westchester house was pretty much like the other houses in Baltimore. Weiner said “the sets needed to be not just Danish mid-century but East Coast Danish mid-century.”
One of the great things about the sets on this tv show is that all the sets are deeply connected. For example, the Sterling Cooper office was a version of the Drapers’ apartment, which is quintessentially mid-century Knoll, Herman Miller, Steelcase.
Finally, Mad Men keeps things real. How? Matthew Weiner explains that they just “put the wires on!”. Why? Because this brings authenticity to the sets. Whenever we are watching the show and see all the papers and ugly things on the desks, that is supposed to be there, because that was precisely how things were done back then, that was how people worked.
“It’s just as important for me to show a character’s open desk drawer with a half roll of Life Savers, with the paper rolled back, as it is to find the perfect dining table.“
Recreate Don Draper’s office mid-century modern design look with this desk lamp by DelightFULL. It is a simple and sleek design that would definitely bring a lot of style, and mid-century vibe to your own office desk.