A Swinging ’60s Design Guide Inspired by Season 5 of ‘Mad Men’


If you’re like us and devouring every tidbit of information about Mad Men in preparation for what’s sure to be a doozy of a finale on Sunday night, then add this to your list of bookmarks dissecting the complex and convoluted series. When the season began, the year was 1966. One of the greatest voices of the time, Bob Dylan, had just shocked adoring fans with a jarring set of earth-shattering electric guitar riffs. Michelangelo Antonioni’s English-language debut, Blowup, an explicit depiction of Swinging London photographer David Bailey, was successfully challenging Hollywood’s conservative film rating guidelines. And, thanks to the well-received premiere of Star Trek, every household in America was obsessing over intergalactic exploration.

We think it’s no coincidence that Matthew Weiner set Season 5 in this pivotal year. Our country was on the brink of colossal social change demanded by the countercultural movement that produced the Summer of Love, Woodstock, pop art, and psychedelic rock all in the name of environmentalism, sexual liberation, civil rights, and freedom of speech. A far cry from the conservative suffocation of the decade prior, things in our country — as in our beloved fictional advertising agency — were starting to get crazy. Since nothing reflects that the times they are a changing like the design of an era, here’s our look at a country about to embark on one groovy, far out trip through the lens of the most brilliant production design today. From Don Draper’s colorful Park Avenue apartment to the bohemian gauze panels at a Hare Krishna temple, click through to be inspired by the style of a show — representing a nation — about to lose control.

The Draper’s Sunken Living Room

Inspired by two design books from the ’60s that set decorator Claudette Didul says show colors so vibrant “they almost make your teeth rattle,” Don and Megan’s Park Avenue apartment shows a tasteful balance of bright, jewel tones and a muted, earthy palette. A nod to the groovy times to come, we love the bohemian Moroccan pendant lamp hanging over the bar and the silk throw pillows that were surely a compromise between Don’s subdued masculine inclinations and Megan’s youthful love of color. All that’s missing is a lava lamp placed lovingly next to Don’s growing vinyl collection. Maybe next season.

The Draper’s Kitchen

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Quite possibly one of our favorite sets of this season, the Draper’s bold kitchen has Megan’s playful, and inspiring good taste written all over it. Even though the charming revolving spice rack caught our eye, our favorite featured kitchen accessories have to be the citrus colored glassware and that fabulous yellow stock pot. A sharp contrast to the creepy, old-fashioned mansion that Betty calls home. No coincidence there.

Howard Johnson’s

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Who can forget Don and Megan’s ill-fated road trip upstate to one of the nation’s favorite weekend travel destinations, Howard Johnson’s? Its iconic aqua decor devised by Sister Parish, the socialite turned influential interior decorator hired by the Kennedy’s to outfit the White House arguably inspired a decade of teal kitchens.

The Cool Whip Test Kitchen

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Case in point to Sister Parish’s influence, the striking blue on the cabinets of the Cool Whip Test Kitchen.

The Hare Krishna Temple

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What’s better than the juxtaposition of Harry’s stiff, stuffy tweed coat and the airy, gauze batik wall hangings moving with the energy of a roomful of Hare Krishna devotees chanting the Maha Mantra. It pretty much sums up the state of a nation on the brink of change, don’t you think?

Peggy’s Apartment

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Peggy Olson is the embodiment of progress in the feminist movement. Peggy’s apartment, on the other hand, represents how far the movement still has to go. For one thing, it’s home to — in her mother’s opinion — her greatest sin: living in unwedded bliss. (Well, probably her second greatest.) There’s the prominently placed portrait of JFK. The African painting over the sofa. And there she is in the midst of it all with oven mitts on wearing an apron over a traditional housewifey designer dress she can actually afford to buy herself. Oh the irony.

Pete and Trudy’s Cos Cob Home

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And then there’s the feminist movement’s greatest enemy: the Pete Cambells of the world. If one’s taste in music is at all representative of one’s social and political outlook (which, as we know, it obviously is), then Pete’s painfully out of touch classical selections say everything. Here he’s just purchased a brand new hi fi stereo after ditching chic, cultured Manhattan for the suburbs, and what’s the first thing he plays his uber-stylish, progressive, hip young guests: Beethoven. Earth to Pete Campbell: it’s not 1955 any more.

Betty and Harry’s Rye Mansion

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Four words only: stuck in the past.