See them (the bad mad men) lurking in the background? Please don’t remove the foreground (the bad mad, often angry, women)! So here’s Dan Bishop, production designer for Mad Men, describing (I think in Dwell magazine, as my source seems to have implied) some of the thinking behind the show’s famously ’60s set style:
“We stayed with a fairly warm palette, because I think Matt [Weiner, show creator] kind of just appreciated that. It’s just the whole show, in a funny way, we don’t want it to be – a lot of modern architecture is pretty cold, and we’ve never been, I don’t think anybody actually, is a particular fan of that.”
I’ve never seen Mad Men but have developed a sort of a “thing” about it because of its relentless promotion of modern architecture. Many observers seem to detect a nostalgia for ’60s style in the show. But maybe the architecture and interior design is really supposed to “reflect” what its producers consider the relatively sinister aspects of the behavior of men and women in a corporate culture that eventually went from bad to worse.
Perhaps Bishop felt free to open up because he’d seen the regular feature in Dwell* consisting of photographs of hip young men and women caught in the act of contemplation in their modernist houses and apartments. The author of the feature pens the hipsters thoughts, generally depressing, often taking off directly on the sterility of their home environment.
[In searching for this feature online I came across a 2010 column on Mad Men by my former colleague at the Journal, Froma Harrop, mainly on aspects of the show’s culture other than its architecture.]
* The feature is not, in fact, from Dwell but about Dwell and the culture it flacks. It is from a website called unhappyhipsters.com. This I discovered in another column by Froma, called “Hipsters Without Walls.” She describes the website as using photos from Dwell to make fun of hipsters. Here is a recent selection from unhappyhipsters.com. One of them is above.
Here’s a rueful piece by L.A. Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne from 2010 about the Unhappy Hipsters phenomenon (which in my opinion has not slackened even in 2013).
A shoutout to Michael Mehaffy for shooting that quote to the TradArch list!