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    Mad Men and Mid-Century Modern Office Design in 2019

    Posted by Samantha Johnson

    Posted on 30th Jul 2019 in Office Culture, Office Desks


    The Emmy Award-winning AMC period drama Mad Men spanned seven seasons and 92 episodes. The show is set in the 1960s at the fictional Manhattan-based advertising agency Sterling Cooper. Don Draper, played by Jon Hamm, was the main character and the company’s creative director and junior partner. He was a stereotypical drunk and chain-smoker who frequently cheated on his wife. Peggy Olson, played by Elisabeth Moss, was the woman trying to break through the glass ceiling, as she was promoted from secretary to copywriter during the show’s run.

    The show was never cancelled by the network. It simply concluded, and show creator Matt Weiner did not want to compromise its creative integrity by forcing more shows after the season finale aired on May 17, 2015. Despite the show being off the air for over four years, its impact is still being felt in many aspects of life, particularly as it relates to office furniture and design.

    The mid-century modern style office on the Mad Men set has inspired office design around the country and revived many aspects of the 1960s "mod" movement. Leather office chairs, sofas for afternoon naps, and even bar carts are showing up in some of the most innovative offices in the Bay Area. The minimalist look, combined with modern glam accessories, is the balance that makes the perfect mid-century modern office in the 21st century.

    The 50s and 60s vibe

    Those going for the mid-century modern look focus their attention on office furniture made of wood. Visible legs on tables, desks and shelving give the appearance of more space in smaller places. Patterned rugs in the middle of rooms, along with uniquely-angled chairs, are also hallmarks of mid-century modern design.

    Bright colors, particularly mustard yellow, aqua, and orange, are defining characteristics of this style. Stools with wooden legs and bright orange seats, teal-colored lamps, and colorful wall art are all simple ways to accent the space and give it a classic, clean style.

    Clean lines are also important to pull off the mid-century modern look. That simply means that there is little to no disturbance between surfaces and colors around the room. The opposite is an ornate look, where there are numerous items in a room without any particular regard to space. A line drawn with a ruler is a "clean" line, whereas a freehand line will certainly be straight, but not clean.

    Getting Started

    Transforming your office to the mid-century modern look does not have to be abrupt and done all in one swoop. Remember the goal is to make an area look more spacious than it really is. Choosing the right desks is the most important step. Avoid bulky and heavy in favor of slimline and standing desks. Simple, sculptural lighting adds flair to minimalist interiors. Anglepoise and arc lamps are great for this purpose.

    Color palettes are also integral to the mid-century modern look. Focus on earthly colors. Any and all wood furniture fits the bill. Orange and brown is a classic combination for this style. Chartreuse (yellow/green) and gray are also a popular pair. Of course there is also the simple wood and white palette that is especially effective offices with large glass windows and the view of trees outside.

    Need help designing the perfect mid-century modern office for your company? Contact one of the Eco Office project managers today at 408-437-1700 to commence the process.


    Samantha Johnson is a freelance writer and editor. She lives in Sacramento with her husband, daughter, and two cats. Samantha writes for several retailers and mommy bloggers, and runs an e-commerce store.

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