Top image mage via AMC. | 1. Vintage Panasonic Toot-A-Loop Transistor Radio | 2. Bird Bath Toy (via Victoria & Albert Museum) | 3. Gubi Semi Pendant, Designed by Claus Bonderup and Torsten Thorup | 4. Victor de Vasarely
Vega-Nor Poster | 5. Pastil Chair, Designed by Eero Aarnio | 6. Paper Dress (via Victoria & Albert Museum)
If you’re anything like me, you sat in front of the television this past Sunday night and watched rapturously as Mad Men—the AMC show that originally captured our imaginations in 2007—began its seventh and final season. A lot has happened in the world of Sterling Cooper & Partners since the beginning, and we have watched as our favorite characters navigated the tumultuous landscape of 1960s America—political upheaval, sexual liberation, drug experimentation and earth-shattering changes in science and technology. Now, we find Don, Peggy and company on the brink of a new decade, confronted with unprecedented uncertainty, challenged ideals, and new ways of looking at the world. Although the character drama of Mad Men has always been fun to watch, the show is, at its core, an exploration of culture—both material and otherwise—something that is touched upon in nearly every aspect of the show’s production design: costume, furniture, art and, of course, advertising. Following the trajectory of the show’s timeline, we have seen Mad Men’s visual world transform—morphing from confident boom-year Modernism ushered in by the 1950s to the explosive cultural experimentation of the late 60s and early 70s. This season, the the drama has hit fever pitch, as has the production design—our eyes are treated to a dizzying array of colors, pattern, textures and hairstyles (oh, the hairstyles!).
This season of Mad Men takes us to 1969, a year that found itself in a state of flux, both technologically and ideologically. It was in this year that the space race reached its climax, culminating in the moon landing of Apollo 11. It was also the year of Woodstock—the famous (and infamous) music festival that defined the so-called “Hippie” generation. Coming out of a decade that witnessed shocking social changes and rapid industrial advances, one witnessed two distinct (albeit intermingling) strains of thought—an urge to explore the new forms and materials of the future and an impulse, fueled by the environmentalist movement, to come back down to earth a little. On one hand, there was an effort by designers to introduce radically new, psychedelic forms using industrial materials like plastic, foam and metal. On the other, the “Age of Aquarius” youth was calling for a more liberated, culturally rich lifestyle—one that embraced communal living, open love, exotic cultures and the intoxicating siren call of nature. The result was design that ushered in the idea of Postmodernity and a visual world that was not just more experimental, but a heck of a lot more fun. —Max
Check out some more of our favorite late 60s and early 70s designs after the jump!
Above: 1969 Pepsi advertisement, illustrated by John Alcorn.
1. Eclisse Lamp, Designed by Vico Magistretti | 2. Ultima Thule Glass, Designed by Tapio Wirkkala | 3. Cronotime Desk Clock, Designed by Pio Manzu | 4. Marimekko Kaivo HW Fabric, Designed by Maija Isola | 5. Nesso Table Lamp, Designed by Giancarlo Mattioli | 6. Vintage Ligne Roset Chair, Designed by Michele Ducaroy