We’re excited and heartbroken, as we anticipate the kick-off of the second half of Mad Men’s seventh—and last—season. While we prepare to say goodbye to one of our favorite guilty pleasures, we look back at how the show has transformed a studio set and cast into an authentic portrayal of mid-century life, and inspired a new generation of design-lovers to fall in love with mid-mod style.
How do they do it? Mad Men’s portrayal of the milieu of 1960s advertising players—on Madison Avenue and in their Manhattan apartments or suburban homes—extends beyond office drama and vodka martinis. The show transports us back to a pivotal era with honest moments that have shaped American culture—from the 1960 presidential election in season one to Apollo 11’s landmark 1969 moon-landing in part-one finale of season seven.
But even more subtly, the show’s design team, led by production designer Dan Bishop, creates interiors worthy of the set’s recognition as a silent character. Don and Megan Draper’s New York City apartment, the Sterling-Cooper & Partners’ office lounge, and dozens of other interiors are emblematic of the youth culture and market for modern goods that saw a rise in post-war America. The era was marked by a renouncement of the 1950s suburban dream; a desire for simplification, open-layouts, and sleek structural elements; and an appreciation of geometric shapes and bold use of color.
Along with these new style ideals, Mad Men shows the work of popular furniture designers—including Charles and Ray Eames, Herman Miller, Florence Knoll, and Eero Saarinen—in their natural habitats. In situ, the pieces reflect the significant shifts in culture of the 1960s, and make handsome backdrops for the ad men to work, drink, dream, fail, and succeed. It’s enough to make us wonder: Who’s the real star of the show: Don Draper, or these masterful mid-century interiors?
Don Draper himself might not know. In a genius marketing moment, Don Draper says, “Nostalgia. It’s delicate, but potent. … In Greek, nostalgia literally means ‘the pain from an old wound.’ It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone.”
So even if you weren’t around to create memories half a century ago, you can feel nostalgic on Don’s behalf—and shop these Mad Men looks today.
1. Pair of Mid-Century Ceramic Lamps | 2. Business Adventures by John Brooks
3. Style of Milo Baughman Chrome Lounge or Side Chairs
4. French Mid-Century Philippe Starck Designed Coffee Table
5. Mid-Century Modern Bench in the Style of Robsjohn-Gibbings
6. Mid-Century Swedish Art Glass Bowl | 7. Art Deco Airplane Desk Lamp
8. Mid-Century Abstract Oil Painting
1. Vintage Anatolian Flat Weave Rug | 2. American Mid-Century Knoll Sofa in Custom Linen
3. Hollywood Regency Black and Gold Ice Bucket
4. Danish Modern Walnut Barstools | 5. Gerald Thurston Porcelain Hourglass Lamp
6. Mid-Century Brass Wall Mounted Fireplace Tools Set
7. American Mid-Century Lawrence Peabody Walnut Credenza and Hutch
8. Italian Brass & Steel Coffee Table with Glass Top
9. Swedish “Ari” Chair by Arne Norell in Leather
Images via Interior Design.