Time to get transported back to the 20th century. In the critically acclaimed tv drama series, Mad Men, we were whisked away to a world where cash was king and eager up and comers were one good idea away from making it to the top. And the Draper’s kitchen was a brilliant representation of the time as well as mid-century modern design. This design movement was characterized by clean lines, minimalistic forms, and an emphasis on functionality. Compared to kitchens that preceded this design movement that featured sterile and cold, atmospheric ambiance, the Draper kitchen features sleek flat-panel doors and simple hardware along with warm, earthy tones and wood-grained cabinetry; very representative of the time and how the kitchen was the heart of the home. However, appearances are everything and even though the kitchen felt welcoming, we’re all too well aware of the drama that went on behind the scenes.
Mid-century modern design has a lot of aspects and while it’ll always vary, some common themes we can expect are clean lines, keeping with a more minimalistic approach. Natural materials, like wood, stone, and metal bring about a warm and organic feel. Open shelving allows for functional usage or as a way to showcase dishes and kitchenware with a stylish flare. But above all, mid-century modern values functionality, making any cooking endeavor a breeze.
The 1960s saw a technological boom, bringing innovative, groundbreaking kitchen appliances and gadgets into the home. And set designers wanted to exemplify the technological advancements of the era by equipping the Draper’s kitchen with a variety of cutting-edge appliances. A prime example is the refrigerator which featured a frost-free design, eliminating the need for time-consuming manual defrosting. Additionally, we can see used many times throughout the show, a state-of-the-art electric oven and stove. This was all to build towards a subtle story about the convenience-driven consumer culture of the 1960s, one that fueled the successful business of Don Draper and his associates.
And perhaps one of the most striking aspects of the Draper’s kitchen is the open concept layout, which slowly became a staple of kitchens in the 1960s. This addition allows for a sense of openness, prompting lively conversations during meal prep as well as creating a spacious hub for all the family and social life thrown at it.
This open concept is accentuated with checkered wallpaper, and a range of nostalgic hardware and kitchen accessories. These decorative elements help to add a pop of color but also helped in transporting viewers back to this point in time, immersing them in the world.
The Draper’s kitchen from “Mad Men” was a prime example of mid-century modern design, meticulously brought together to contribute to the authenticity of the show’s 1960 setting, captivating viewers with a timeless elegance. When looking back at kitchens like this one, we’re reminded that some styles are truly timeless and can remain a symbol, capturing in time the essence of an era in every detail.