Get the Look: Mid-Century Modern Interior Design As Seen in TV's Mad Men

26/01/16 in Interiors

Image and design by Stephen Fletcher Architects Ltd

Caption: A mid-century modern style office

From 2007 to 2015, viewers were hooked on the ups and downs of life at Sterling Cooper, the fictional advertising agency at the heart of TV’s Mad Men. But it wasn’t just the dramatic plot lines that caught viewers’ attention – the show’s award-winning set design has inspired a legion of homeowner’s to invest in classic mid-century pieces. It’s official: retro furniture is cool again.

So what is mid-century modern interior design? And how can you bring the ‘look’ of Mad Men to your home?


The age of lunchtime martinis, sharp suits – and iconic furniture design

The phrase ‘mid-century modern’ is hard to define. It describes architecture and interior design from around 1933 to 1965, placing the 1960s setting of Mad Men towards the end of the movement, when it had firmly taken root.

There’s an undeniable allure to the period. This was the age of lunchtime martinis, sharp suits and the rise of TV commercials – but it was also a time when a collection of forward thinking designers began to challenge the traditional notions of design and experiment with new materials.

The most eminent of these included Charles and Ray Eames, who famously produced the iconic moulded plastic DSW Chair, as well as their classic lounge chair, which would fit in perfectly on any Mad Men set. There was also Le Corbusier, who created mid-century designs such as the LC4 chaise longue, and Hans J Wegner, designer of the Mad Men-esque GE-270 Chair.

By the late 1960s, however, many mid-century designs had gone out of fashion. But this all changed in the ‘90s, when niche collectors began to drive up the price of originals, whilst many classic designs were reissued. Today, shows such as Mad Men and The Daily Show, on which guests are interviewed sitting on Eames chairs, have reignited consumers’ passion for mid-century modern pieces. 


Mad Men interior design –mid-century modern interior design style living room

Image and design by Gibbon Lawson McKee Ltd

Caption: Living room with mid-century modern style furniture and light fittings.

How to bring the Mad Men ‘look’ to your home

The set of Mad Men’sfictional advertising agency is a time capsule from the world of mid-century America. Nearly every shot is filled with classic pieces from the era, including an Eames Executive Chair in Don Draper’s office and the boxy, clean lined sofas.

With some key pieces and a spot of decorating, you can tastefully bring the look to your home. Here are our tips:

1.     Add some wood panelling

Wood panelling was incredibly popular in the mid-twentieth century, and can be seen all over the Mad Men set. The idea of completely panelling a room can be a little alarming - but simply panelling one wall can transform your space, without looking ‘too much’. Make sure to stick to dark, orangey, varnished woods to get the mid-century look.

2.     Include stand-out lighting fixtures

From dramatic floor lamps to striking ceiling lights (as seen in the image above), mid-century modern design puts a big focus on lighting. Classic pieces include the Arne Jacobsen Floor Lamp and the Verner Panton Flowerpot Lamp, and are often either very angular, or very cyclical. The Wilhelm Wagenfeld Globe Light is also very Mad Men.

Mad Men interior design – mid-century interior design style room

Image and design by Russian for Fish. Photo credit: Peter Landers

Caption: This design by Russian for Fish subtly incorporates mid-century style using key pieces.

3.     Choose accent colours such as burnished orange and mint green

It sounds a little alarming, but mid-century modern interiors often featured splashes of colour, with burnished orange and mint green being particularly popular. You can subtly incorporate these into your design with coloured furnishings or rugs. As mentioned above, orangey woods can also be a good way to bring some colour to your space.


4.     Pick asymmetrical, abstract patterns

Asymmetrical and abstract patterns were hugely popular during the mid-century modern era. It’s important not to overdo it, but a patterned rug or a piece of abstract art can be the perfect addition to a room.


5.     Invest in classic mid-century furniture designs

Ultimately, the key to achieving the mid-century modern look is investing in classic designs from the period. Mid-century pieces are often characterised by their smooth, straight lines, and contrasting curves.

Here at Vita Interiors, we stock a range of replica mid-century modern furniture, so that you can add these iconic designs to your home, for less. Some great Mad Men style pieces include the Charles Eames Style Ribbed Lounger & Ottoman, the Hans J Wegner Style GE 270 3 Seat Sofa and the Le Corbusier Style LC10 Coffee Table.


Thanks to hit shows such as Mad Men,mid-century modern design has never been more popular. Bring the ‘look’ to your home today, and browse our quality range of replica mid-century modern furniture


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