Don Draper’s Office: A Retrospective
We take a look back at the mouth-watering set design of the hit show Mad Men
It has been ten years since Mad Men first appeared on our screens back in 2007. For its nearly eight years on air, we wallowed in the sumptuous design delights of the hit AMC show. The meticulously well researched and presented 1960s interiors were responsible for a global resurgence in the Mid-Century Modern interior aesthetic. Production designer Dan Bishop and set decorators Amy Wells and Claudette Didul-Mann brought Matthew Weiner’s profound meditation on the “deceptive allure of surface and the deeper mysteries of identity” to its award-laden fruition. “Everything is story”, says Weiner. The Mad Men narrative is a slow-paced rich tapestry of deep and complex characters. It was Weiner’s direct response to the extremely fast-paced TV shows, such as 24 or C.S.I, which seemed to take over American television. Mad Men is the complete opposite. The depth of characters seems to be matched only by the depth of production design and set decoration.
Wiener’s O.C.D. attention to every design detail drives the story-line and character development and has subsequently become part of the shows folklore. The highly stylised Sterling Cooper Manhattan offices in the Time Life Building - the epitome of Mid-Century Modern design - were meticulously decorated by Didul-Mann with countless vintage pieces from Knoll and Herman Miller (not reissues!). The Florence Knoll 3 Seater Sofa features heavily throughout in an array of different colours, form avocado green to a rich blue, to a funky orange. The orange version actually became quite the star in its own right. It quickly became known as “the Mad Men sofa”. But it is in fact the Cato Red Fabric which comes from Knoll’s industry leading Textiles division.
Even within the offices there is an amazing mix of styles, and these change through the seasons. Don’s office always seemed perfectly applicable to his character. Dressed with quite masculine and dark furniture. Don’s office chair is the Eames Time-Life Executive Chair, combined with a dark teak Danish style desk combined with the now famous Boxy armchairs and sofa. Often the only colour stemmed from the loose cushions or a solitary piece of art. This does change as the seasons progress however.
Roger Sterling’s office in season 4 on the other hand is largely dressed with white highly contemporary furniture. His office features a stunning array of some of the most cutting-edge designers of the time. He sits on a beautiful white leather version of the Eames Time-Life Executive Chair. His desk is actually a white marble-top Tulip Dining Table by Eero Saarinen with a Nesso Bowl Lamp by Giancarlo Mattioli lighting his workspace. A few more Saarinen designed pieces, including the Tulip Coffee Table and Tulip Swivel Stools, furnish his office. Topped off by the, now iconic, Corona Chair by Danish designer Poul Volther.
You can shop the furniture, lighting and décor on our Mad Men page.
Mad Men is arguably one of the most perfectly styled and designed shows seen on television. Even people who have never watched an episode are aware that Mad Men looked good. The shows reconstruction of a precise 1960s New York aesthetic has permeated into the popular culture, with hundreds of interior design and lifestyle magazines featuring countless pieces on the shows aesthetic. It is responsible for the mass-market revival of the Mid-Century Modern genre of furniture and interior décor.
Even though new episodes no longer grace our screens, Mad Men remains a trend-setting inspiration for the rest of us. We still talk about a Mad Men suit or a Mad Men sofa and we will love Don Draper, for the good and the bad, forever and ever. With its visually beautiful production imagery it has become a design shorthand that is not going away anytime soon.
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