Mad Men’s finale has aired more than two years ago, but the hype and the love for mid-century design are still going strong.
Mad Men was not only one of the best tv shows of our generation. It was also a huge source of mid-century modern design inspiration and it surely helped the movement gain momentum in a time when interior design was becoming more and more relevant. And today we are stepping behind the scenes and trying to understand why Mad Men is still so relevant for modern design lovers.
If you’re a fan of the Mad Men tv series, you know Don Draper, the former creative director of Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency who rose up to become a partner of Sterling Cooper & Partners. But the show was much more than this, and ultimately the series ran for seven seasons and ended up becoming an icon of mid-century modern design. However, this was not always the case.
In 1999 when the series creator Matthew Weiner finished his first script, “there was still this feeling that mid-century was bad.” Luckily everything changed when Weiner, production designer Dan Bishop and set decorator Claudette Didul conceived the mid-century production design we are now familiar with down to the most intricate detail.
Production designer, Dan Bishop was the responsible behind the ground-up spaces, and he was also the one that turned 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, the series 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.”
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One of the great things about the sets on the Mad Men 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.
“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.“
Lastly, one the most important aspects of the series, and that helped keep spectators on the edge of their seats for seven seasons what the ability of the production design to keep things real. Matthew Weiner explained 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.
Photos © AMC
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