Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mad Muse: Behind-The-Scenes On The Mad Men Set and Mid Century Dreaming

Mad Men is my ultimate styling muse. Both the writing and characters engage, but it's the elaborate staging that elevates Mad Men to award-winner status. The sets are not merely fanatically researched and accurate, they're alive; every prop is carefully selected to assist storytelling. A recent interview with Interior Design show creator Matthew Weiner details set choices and photographer Eric Laingel shows us a behind-the-scenes look at the incredible interiors. These are my current ‘Mad Muses,’ filling me to the brim with branding inspiration:


Megan Draper's warm bohemian Los Angeles bungalow is my new favorite set. It's sunny and eclectic, stationed on a mountain with an orgasmic panoramic view of the Hollywood Hills. Dreamy, groovy, out-of-sight; gimmethatfireplace. In a Fashion and Style behind-the-scenes video on AMC, set designer Claudette Didul reveals that this apartment,

"wasn't supposed to be too hip, it was supposed to be as if she picked up things, I wouldn't say thrift store, but maybe kind of like antique store, or maybe some items were left behind by the previous renter."


Nailed it! This is one of the most "real" interiors we'll see on the show. It feels like the cozy apartment of a spirited friend, a great place for coffee with friends, or a swinging party. And since all the little details are the exact things I like to sell in my shop, I definitely see lots in the background I've sold previously.


I love that the bedroom is a reprieve from the business of the living space. There’s color and a mix of patterns yet it feels like a cozy place to roost, almost hotel-room style. Can I move in now? That wood paneling is much like wrapping myself up in a warm blanket, it oozes cozy. I loved Megan's revulsion at the expensive new television Don delivered; Megan can write a $1K donation check like it's nothing ($7K with inflation) but in his apartment she's playing the starving artist part to fit in with her fellow struggling actor friends.


The cozy roost Megan left behind stands is a stark contrast to this luxe and modern Park Avenue New York penthouse. It's cosmopolitan; Cali is casual. It's modern; Cali is bohemian. It's mostly shot in the dark; Cali is an explosion of sunshine and light.


This space is as drool-worthy as the California bugalow, but quite impersonal, reminding me of how my apartment is now. I intentionally pared it down to the bare minimum and I'm now ready to slowly fill it with the cozy, life-giving details that Megan's California pad has.


This apartment is perfection, expertly laid out. Don relinquished creative control to Megan and her interior designer on this one and a housekeeper helps maintain it. It's new and modern and symbolizing Don's fresh start with hip young accessory wife #2, and I appreciate Weiner's comment about the white carpeting in the interview. It's impossible to maintain white carpeting, especially in a party pad, and it says a lot about Megan's character.


Weiner says he's in awe of his visions made real with these sets. He's not alone! Get out my head, set designers! There are two things I did as a kid that clearly indicate an early writer designer: re-arrange my dollhouse furniture to find a pleasing composition and write on my mom's vintage typewriter while envisioning the amazing office I'd have someday in The Future. This is what that office was like.


This is every dream office. It's also every creative office. There's a local advertising firm near me, Dalton Agency, with a similar colorful, open, modern layout. Isn't it fun how this exact look for trendy ad agencies hasn't changed in 45 years.


Of course there's special love in my heart for fellow Japanophile Bert Cooper's office. You must remove your shoes before you enter. I tried the same rule for my apartment but I'm not as fastidious as Bert!


The typography nerd in me spasms at the gorgeous packaging strewn about; utilitarian to the eyes of the characters in 1969, and now collector's items.


The lines are clean, the feel modular, and I enjoy the stimulating palate of primaries and secondaries as well as the homey nooks for clients to sit and creatives to brainstorm.


I mean, just admire any corner. Damn. I want it all! I enjoy seeing the magazines out that year while watching the show; my 1969 January Playboy sat on Don's lap in episode 701.


The SC&P offices have an amazing mix of colors and textures to behold, too. I really appreciate the desk messes and cluttered artist's cork boards. Peggy has a kokeshi doll on her desk, seeing it always makes me happy.


And just like the home interiors each office tells us about the characters. Ted's office (above) with its wood, brown, and mustard mirror his earthy warmth.


The result of all the hard work is a show that's completely immersive. I'm looking at the framework of these artificial environments, but when I turn on an episode of Mad Men I'm  in the era with these characters, as disbelief suspends entirely. I have a passion for capturing, curating, and sharing homes and workspaces and these sets inspire me to keep intrusively invading spaces, bulky SLR in hand!

Let's talk Mad Men: How do you like the last season thus far? (Be careful, spoilers in the comments.) What are your favorite rooms, costumes and characters?
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28 comments:

  1. I love Mad Men, the set design and costumes are just wonderful!

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    1. Thaaat they are :D Tom and Lorenzo do amazing write-ups on suggested symbolism and the history behind the costumes: http://tomandlorenzo.com/tag/mad-style/

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  2. I am CRAZY about this year's set design, even though I'm usually on the fence about post-Kennedy era interior design...I am so happy to oogle and ogle the sets up close without having to pause the episode, thank you for this post! That blue chair in Megan's bungalow = everything.

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    1. That yellow fireplace! It's so atomic and incredible, I would to own that! I've gone back to ogle the sets again and again myself, these photos are gorgeous.

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  3. Didn't know about Mad Men and all I want is to add all these fab inspiring images on my pinterest!!

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    1. Oh you haven't heard of one of the best television shows ever?! ;) Definitely check it out when you can.

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  4. Love these images and the Mad Men series. We're a few behind, having just finished season 3.

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    1. You'll get caught up in no-time, so addictive to watch. I've watched the whole thing twice now it would seem, playing catch-up with others. I noticed new things each viewing- character interaction and set-wise.

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  5. I sold a vintage typewriter paper box to Mad Men---never managed to see if it made it into the series, though. Have only seen a couple of episodes. They are masters of set decoration, that's for sure!

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    1. Lucky lucky! How'd you know they're the ones who bought it? :D

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    2. The address was to the set director, if I remember properly. And, they wanted it immediately---those people are always in a huge hurry :) I sold a crazy shirt to Tyler Perry, too. Don't know if that ever made it into one of his projects either...

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    3. Awww man that's so awesome Tilda :D

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  6. Great post on a great show! Their sets are always really inspiring, we scan each show so much to see all the goodies that sometimes forget to watch what's happening on screen, lol

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    1. Yeah I'm always saying, "Sold that, sold that" ;D It's a very fun show for a mid century modern object seller in many ways.

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  7. Love the sets so much they almost make me want to cut off my own nipple! ;-)

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    1. Yes indeed! :D That scene was heartbreaking holy crap I felt bad for both him and Peggie, not the way I wanted to see him go.

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  8. I absolutely adore Mad Men sets. Except for any of the house's Betty Draper lived/s in. Man I loathe that colonial look and what they did to the old victorian, Ay yi yi. But that condo,sigh.

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    1. Haha, yeah, other than the kitschy kitchen stuff which is my weakness the conservative east coast mid century modern style is a snoozer to my eyes, too. Love that they researched and did it correctly and didn't put atomic stuff we associate with mod in the first Draper abode just to make it sexy. ;D

      Oh yes that condo. *salivates*

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  9. Fabulous design! Love that era. Wish my folks had gone that route in the 60s, but they went the complete opposite and bought Early American! Poor me!

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    1. HAHA! Aw :D Looking at my mom's family photos I see the kitschy plastic atomic style and not a lot of heywake field or anything fancy like that. My mom HATES the cheap atomic stuff she grew up with but I drool all over the pictures.

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    2. It's Heywood Wakefield, and my grandparents had blonde HW end tables and a coffee table that I could've had back in the 80s but wasn't out of the house yet and nowhere to put them. Boooo!

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    3. I swear I knew that ;) I suuuuuck at phone typing. Badly. My instagram is riddled with typos. Aw, super sad about the table!

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    4. Part of me thinks the mad men/mid century craze is hilarious. This is all stuff I grew up with! I look through the photos, and I think "Yep, we had one of those, kne of those, one of those...".

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    5. Aw :D I need to watch it with my mom and see what she recognizes. She was only a toddler at the time but her family kept the mod stuff well into her young adulthood so she'd recognize a lot of it. Sometimes I wonder if "retro" will continue to be cyclical and I'll be the one looking back at shows with the "hideous" to-my-eyes 1990s furniture and clothing I grew up with.

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  10. oooh wow these interiors are amazing! I think I'll have to start watching this show!

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    1. Doooo it, the interiors AND costumes are stunning perfection. And the writing/acting is top notch, definitely considered one of the best shows ever for a reason :) Its on Netflix.

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  11. I sold some avocado green jacquard towels to the Mad Men prop-master a month ago. I am hoping they will make it into a scene in season 7 part two. Please please please let Don Draper or Megan wipe their face with those JC Penney towels! I adore Man Men. Don't know what I'm going to do when it's over. Sigh. My favorite tv show of all time. I'm already grieving.

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    1. So many readers are telling me they've had things purchased for the show, no fair, I haven't ;) Hope your towels appear. And yep, indeed 'tis sad it's ending.

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