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The Woman behind Mad Men Style

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Forget the hairdos, the clothes and those gorgeous, gorgeous guys and gals.  For design fans, AMC's Emmy Award-winning Mad Men is all about bringing mid-century back into our living rooms in a big way (and on way bigger TV’s).   Still, with mid-century pieces and reproductions gracing modern homes around the world, “Mad” viewers who are also design fans might be wondering why, amidst all Sterling Cooper’s creative greatness, there’s not a groovy Ball chair or a timeless Tulip Table in sight. 

The answer comes from Amy Wells, the set designer charged with creating the iconic look of early ‘60s on TV’s show of the moment. While Aarnio, Panton and Saarinen may have created the most enduring and recognizable pieces of mid-century furniture, Wells’ job is not to create ideal ‘60s environs, but authentic ones.  What else could have inspired the hellacious brown plaid wallpaper featured in the Draper kitchen?  Wells pored through design mags to come up with ideas that are, as she puts it, “imperfect, not iconic.”  With the goal of creating sets that look like real offices and homes, rather than idealized palaces of mid-century cool, there’s definitely a place for the hideously forgettable.  Lucky for design fans, that place is right alongside the sleek Danish modern couches where the Sterling crew sips their midday drinks. 

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