AMC, Michael Yarish, Associated Press
Now that another season of "Mad Men" is taking us back to the 1960s, lovers of Mid-century Modern style are eyeing the sets for inspiration.
Luckily, the popularity of both the AMC show and the design style makes it easy to find furniture that sets the stage.
The retro decor complements many of today's furnishings — something to remember when you're trying to capture that '60s vibe, says Anthony Larosa, former furniture design department chair at Savannah College of Art and Design. He cautions against going all-in on the vintage look, even if you love it.
"People would have had a mix of furniture in their homes," he notes. "We get attached to things; we take them with us when we move and redecorate."
If you're keen to incorporate vintage, reproduction or newly reissued pieces from the "Mad Men" era, he suggests starting by looking at books and magazines from the period to see what real interiors looked like.
That's the approach the show's set production team took.
LIVING ROOM FURNITURE
"Mad Men's" set decorator, Claudette Didul, says she and Production Designer Dan Bishop are especially proud of the Manhattan apartment they created for newlywed characters Don Draper, an ad agency exec, and his former secretary, Megan Calvet. The split-level, open-plan living room was initially envisioned by show creator Matthew Weiner, but it was up to the production team to make the space cool, livable and able to accommodate shoot requirements.
"We have to be able to move walls, and set up camera platforms, so we couldn't have actual furniture in certain places. The sofa, bench and wall unit are all built for the space and can be easily removed," says Didul.
Those looking to capture the look might like Gus Modern's tweedy, tailored Rochelle sofa, designed by David Podsiadlo, which looks a lot like the Drapers' ($1,999 at www.wayfair.com).
Crate & Barrel's Bel-Air collection of coffee and side tables features walnut-stained tops on svelte, cast-aluminum tripod bases (side $399, coffee $549). Vintage Danish modern pieces are hard to find and often pricey, but the Calista teak sideboard, with its honey hue and lean profile, has the look at a reasonable price ($1,499).
Florence Knoll's Lounge series of geometric chairs and sofas are classics. While the real thing will set you back $4,000 or more, you can find a similar one at www.roveconcepts.com for $549. Niels Bendtsen's airy, glass-topped, floating-drawer Homework desk often sells for about $2,000, but Rove, a Vancouver, British Columbia-based retailer, offers it for $899. There's a wide variety of "inspired by" pieces here.
Herman Miller commissioned furniture designer Mark Goetz to design a sofa that would complement the work of early Modern icons like Isamu Noguchi, George Nelson, and Charles and Ray Eames. The result is a tailored yet comfortable leather seat wrapped in a clean curve of molded plywood veneer (www.allmodern.com, $3,949).
Goetz says, "What makes the best Mid-century pieces is that they not only appeal to our personal sense of style; they have a degree of visual and functional truth that makes people want to live with them."
In period TV shows, light fixtures are essential in delivering the right look. On "Mad Men," they're practically characters in themselves. Tall, slender wood, colorful opaque glass, gleaming metal — every set's personality is punctuated by one or two statement lamps.
Didul says the production team favored vintage lampshades despite their fragility. "The slubbed silk on them is just beautiful, and the light through them is really unique," she says.
Hers came from Los Angeles-area prop shops and vintage stores.
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