When I hear the term “mid-century modern” what immediately comes to mind is the period TV drama Mad Men. Set in the 1960s, the show was critically acclaimed for its visual and historical accuracy. Each week, fans of the show would be mesmerized watching fictional ad man Don Draper developing advertising campaigns while drinking his favorite mid afternoon cocktail. The only thing more suave than Draper was his sleek office, decorated with an Eames desk chair, Milo Baughman inspired couch, Brutalist style light fixtures, and a pop of color coming from a pair of orange chairs. Although mid-century modern was already enjoying a rebirth when the show aired, Mad Men pushed this design movement into the stratosphere.

Mid-century modern is a design movement characterized by clean, simple lines and absent of decorative embellishments, with an emphasis on function. The movement had a broad influence and included interior, product, graphic and architecture design, and spanned the post-war era through the end of the 1960s. The importance of the movement has been officially recognized by scholars and museums worldwide.

Included in Cooper Hewitt’s permanent collection are some of the most iconic examples from this period, including Mies Van Der Rohe’s Barcelona Chair, Isamu Noguchi’s Rocking Stool and my favorite, Danish designer Arne Jacobsen’s Egg Chair with Ottoman.

While known worldwide for the success of his simple well-designed chairs, Jacobsen created a sensation in 1967 when he collaborated with Stelton to design new products for their Cylinda line. The products showed a simplicity with pure, cylindrical forms and a lightly brushed stainless steel finish that was both functional and affordable. Cylinda-line won the Danish Design Council’s ID Prize the year it debuted.

The popularity of the Cylinda line lives on through Stelton and SHOP Cooper Hewitt. These pieces are sure to help with any recreation of Draper’s now infamous bar cart. And, although from a different period, the classic Ambassador Martini Glass by Lobmeyr complements the line perfectly.

You can also bring nostalgia for this period to your coffee table and bookshelf with our selection of books about the movement. Here's the illustrated chronology. Here's the comprehensive survey. And here's the travel guide for when you want to take your love for mid-century design on the road.

So, mix yourself a drink, sit back in your most mid-century chair, and read up on Don Draper's favorite designers.

Posted by Cindy

SHOP BLOG is written by the sales associates of SHOP Cooper Hewitt, bringing their singular design expertise into the digital realm.


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