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Inspired by Mad Men Design: Lighting

2010 July 28

Everyone is mad about Mad Men (myself included). And with the 4th season kicking off this week, there’s been the usual chatter about the set design—how impeccable it is, how it’s revived an interest in mid-century modern design, and how we can bring it into our own homes. The Washington Post even held a contest for the most Mad Men-like home, awarding the owners of a gorgeous house in Silver Springs with the honor.

So while the mid-century lighting in Mad Men is typically a flawless tribute to the era, here are a few ways to mesh that inspiration with modern updates:

Mad Men design inspiration for mid-century lighting

The show has shown a huge variety in desk lamps throughout the various offices. Lots of two-headed lamps or ones with wide shades that light up the length of a desk. I’m a bit partial to Harry Crane’s lamp, above, probably because it’s one of the more relevant styles still around today. Here are a few examples:

P711 Table Lamp by George Kovacs

P711 Table Lamp be George Kovacs

With a flexible next and easy-to-direct task lighting, this lamp is all business—just like the boys at Sterling Cooper (er, Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce…).

Kelvin T Task Lamp by Flos

Kelvin T Fixed Arm Table Lamp by Flos

The Kelvin T stands at attention, rather than arching over like Harry’s lazy lamp—though there is also an adjustable Kelvin T lamp as well. Designed by Antonio Critterio and Toan Nguyen.

Bruno Adjustable C Arm Desk Lamp by Robert Abbey

Bruno Adjustable “C” Arm Desk Lamp by Robert Abbey

OK, So I realize the Bruno isn’t quite as inspired by the looks of Harry’s lamp, but someone else in the show has a lamp with this same shape, but I can’t remember exactly who, and (unfortunately) I can’t clip through episodes all day to find it. Similar to Harry’s lamp, however, is the fluidity and dexterity of the Bruno Adjustable “C” Arm—move the pliable neck to adjust lighting, and make use of the high/low dimming function.

Mad Men design inspiration mid-century lighting

Do not allow yourself to be distracted by the charm and good looks of the man above—we’re talking about lighting here, people!

In their simplest form, a lot of Mad Men’s table lamps follow this same formula in mid-century lighting—simple drum shades paired with a tall and narrow body. Here are a few ways to get the look:

Capri 1 Table Lamp by Jonathan Adler for Robert Abbey

Capri 1 Table Lamp by Jonathan Adler for Robert Abbey

The elongated gourd shape is paired with colorful glass in the cheerful colors Adler brings to much of his work.

Juggler Table Lamp by Babette Holland

Juggler Table Lamp by Babette Holland

A spun aluminum base and silk shade make this lamp gracefully modern and sophisticated, with the lofty, slender shape paying tribute to the Mad Men-esque era.

p737 Table Lamp by George Kovacs

P737 Table Lamp by George Kovacs

The striking chocolate chrome base of the P737 paired with its 36 inches of height make it a slightly more ornate example of mid-century design.

Mad Men design inspiration mid-century lighting

Nesso Table Lamp by ArtemideEven better than inspiration is the real thing, and I’m pretty sure Roger Sterling’s new desk lamp is the Nesso Table Lamp by Artemide. This one flashed on the screen pretty fast, but I’d be willing to bet its Giancarlo Mattioli’s famous lamp. It’s even in the Design Collection of the Museum of Modern Art. The Nesso Table Lamp would have been brand-spanking new at the time, but we always knew Roger was pretty hip.

What other inspirations do you take away from Mad Men’s immaculate design?

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