Catching Mad Men Design Fever

Mad Men grips viewers around the world with its characters and storylines. But for those with an eye for art and design, the show is just as much about its visual feast of impeccably curated mid-century style.

MadMen1So, instead of leaving Don Draper’s anything-goes universe behind each time the credits roll, why not incorporate the glamorous 1960s into your world? Once you know what ingredients to look for, it’s as easy as mixing a Tom Collins. Start with American mid-century and Danish modern, and you’re ready to stir things up.

The office is as good a place as any to begin – it is, after all, where Don Draper and his crew often seem most “at home.” And both the original Sterling Cooper agency and new Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce brim with design classics that are as relevant and visually powerful today as they were in the 60s.

MadMen2For a desk, look for a geometric, no-frills, solid design in Arne Jacobsen style – preferably with a blend of wood and metal. Then top it with eye-catching accessories. A statement desk lamp – like Don’s black-and-gold twin style or Roger Sterling’s Giancarlo Matiioli white Nesso lamp – adds both a sculptural and functional element. (Poul Henningsen’s portfolio is an excellent source of inspiration, too.) Bookends, globes, and statuettes add a personal touch while inspiring conversation and creativity. You might even consider the ultimate symbol of a bygone era: the typewriter. But if space is tight, a decorative and functional retro fan or boxy desk clock can be your reminder of analogue days.

If the dark wood aesthetic is too first-season for your taste, fast forward to Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce’s new white office. Roger Sterling’s new space – an ode to modern design – houses one-legged, white Eero Saarinen Tulip tables and chairs. Saarinen’s icons also do well in kitchens, as do Arne Jacobsen’s Ant and Series 7 chairs, with their minimalist lines and a quintessentially 60s pop-of-colour veneers. Charles and Ray Eames’s landmark moulded plastic chairs do the job, too.

MadMen3In loungey areas, a credenza like E.W. Bach’s does double-duty, hiding papers, magazines, mod china, and Holmegaard glassware – while providing an ideal surface for a bar, though you can also whip up your Mad Men cocktails on a mobile cart. For more heavy-duty storage, try a modular shelving system like Børge Mogensen’s or Poul Cadovius’.

And then there are Mad Men’s impossible-to-ignore chairs and sofas – minimal, linear, and arguably the design stars of the show. A Time-Life Executive Chair by Charles and Ray Eames and a pair of cane-backed armchairs by Peter Hvidt & Orla Mølgaard Nielsen or a wood-and-black-leather set by Erik Kirkegaard offer the ideal balance of form and function. The Charles Eames’ Lounge Chair and any pieces by Kai Kristiansen – from seats and tables to shelves and dressers, especially in teak – also recreate the polished, inviting agency aesthetic. Boxy 60s-style sofas and sectionals in bold colours like burnt orange, turquoise and avocado are also easy to work into contemporary décor. So is the irresistible Saarinen Womb Chair featured on set, though you can swap in another piece with organic lines and plush seating, like Arne Jacobsen’s Swan or a Hans J. Wegner lounge chair.

MadMen4And of course, no Mad Men scene is complete without striking, mood-setting artwork. In your quest, the key is to choose pieces that, as Kenneth Carlsgrove puts it when eyeing Bertram Cooper’s new Rothko, “make you feel something.” CoBrA movement paintings, like Mogens Balle’s, match the abstract expressionism aesthetic with their graphic, bold style. So do Jørn Ladegaard’s and Jørgen Bæk’s abstract compositions, modern statues like Daniel Grobet’s, surrealist, Dali-esque sculptures, and dramatic metal wall art. Purely graphic works, like the dizzying black-on-white dots in Sterling’s office, also set the right creative mood. How to make sure you don’t get lost in your new visual paradise? Be sure to hang George Nelson’s Spindle Clock or a classic Eames timepiece on the wall. is one of the best places to find original pieces from the era that started what we define as “modern.” Ready to let Mad Men inspire your interiors? Explore our mid-century collection of furniture, lighting, accessories, and art here.

Anastasya PartanAnastasya Partan, a Boston-based freelance writer, is a guest blogger for She was born in Moscow, raised in the US, and has lived in New York, Washington, DC, London, Paris, and Copenhagen. With both a corporate and creative background, she writes for international brands and explores topics related to lifestyle, culture and the arts.


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