MidCentury/Modern Hospitality Lighting

Mad Men Lamps

"Mad Men" lamps at Swank cocktail lounge in San Francisco, CA,

Mad Men Style

Retro custom lamp shades made for vintage lamps at Swank Lounge in San Francisco.

The vintage-modern set decor on the Mad Men series illustrates the rapid evolution of design in the late ’50s through mid-’60s. Mid-century home furnishings and product designers were learning well from their peers in the auto and fashion industries: each new year demands new styles to encourage people to buy more and new products. Well-made furnishings like chairs, couches, lamps, and light fixtures require little maintenance, and they last much longer than machines and clothing. How then, to increase sales? The answer: change each year’s style from the previous year (planned style obsolescence), and have the ad boys convince the consumers that last year’s style — the one’s they were pitching so hard just a months previously — is now out of vogue. Hello Mad Men!

We’ll probably never see such a period as fecund for design as the post-War to mid ’60s era again. The combination of rapid economic growth, a fast-growing middle class, increasing and wide-spread prosperity (remember that?), and rapid technological advances led to growing markets starved for more products and new designs. Many of the new industrial designers had experienced European design first-hand for the first time during the war, and the lessons of modern European design of the 1930s and 1940s was incorporated into mid-century American design.

Clean lines, simple shapes, new colors, less ornamentation (form follows function), and the new ability to mass-produced furnishings with the new materials and technologies meant mid-century swank and modern sophistication came to the American living room for the first time.

Photo courtesy of Swank.

Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *