An A-Z Guide to Mid-Century Modern Design According to 'Mad Men'


If you’re like us and anxiously awaiting Mad Men’s two-hour season premiere on Sunday night, here’s a little something to tide you over. Nothing’s been leaked about what to expect from our favorite dapper leading man haunted by a self-inflicted double life except for AMC’s look at where Season 4 left off and the well-designed albeit vague posters showing our hero’s infinite fall from grace. One of the many questions we’re dying to know the answer to: how will production designer extraordinaire, Dan Bishop, evolve the show’s aesthetic? The last season saw a transition from the muted tones of the late ’50s to the beginnings of space-age minimalism and a global obsession with color. Fast approaching the ’70s, we’re wondering what new design goodness will be introduced.

Matthew Weiner, the show’s creator, says that the series isn’t “a textbook study of mid-century modern America.” In keeping with that, we’ve done our best to round up some of the more obscure design references from the first few seasons. From Bert Cooper’s progressive art collection to the ubiquitous roly poly lowballs to funky metal sculptures, here’s our guide to mid-century modern design — the Mad Men way. Tell us about your favorite Mad Men design moment in the comments!

Asiana ant farms

Blue velvet

C. Jeré-esque metal sculptures

Dorothy Thorpe silver band roly poly lowballs

Expressionist paintings

Foo dogs

Graphic partition screens

Hokusai’s “The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife”

Italian hospital chic courtesy of a wife half your age

Jaunty blue table lamps

Knoll tufted couches

Little retro television sets


Nesso lamp by Artemide

Orange accents

Primary colors

Quixotic pied-à-terres

Roulette cigarette dispensers

Saarinen red chairs

Teal paint

Umbrellas, striped

Vases, multiple

White brick fireplaces

Xerox machines

Yellow rotary phones

Zebra wallpaper