‘Mad Men’: Season 7 explores L.A. style
In Season 7, “Mad Men,” the AMC drama known for its pitch-perfect period sets, has become seriously bicoastal.
It’s 1969, and Sterling Cooper & Partners, the series’ advertising agency, has opened a West Coast branch. The set for that location replicates offices in the 1939 Culver City MCA building by acclaimed architect Paul Williams. Don Draper (Jon Hamm) still lives in the drool-worthy midcentury Manhattan pad, while his actress wife, Megan (Jessica Pare), is pursuing a Hollywood career and has embraced flower-power bohemianism in a Laurel Canyon bungalow.
On his visits to Los Angeles, Draper has dined in the stylish interiors of Canters Delicatessen and the Dresden Room in Los Feliz. He has bunked at Megan’s place, which showcases California design and the folk-art crafts movement of the late 1960s, which is once again finding favor in L.A. homes and hot spots like the Bungalow at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel in Santa Monica.
“There’s a lot more macrame wall hangings, Scandinavian rya pillows and rugs, and interesting pottery, and the colors are getting earthier in tone,” said set decorator Claudette Didul of the era. “I remember my parents and their friends going antiquing. Mixing new and old was becoming common.”
In an interview in the current issue of Interior Design magazine, “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner revealed that Didul fills the sets with quirky details such as a large ceramic dog in Pete Campbell’s office. “She’s really into personalities,” he said. And research.
For inspiration, Didul looked through 1968 and 1969 editions of Better Homes & Gardens and Architectural Digest and pored over images of the Rolling Stones, Frank Zappa and Joni Mitchell photographed in Laurel Canyon homes. At the suggestion of Weiner, Didul also watched the 1969 French film “Model Shop,” which is set in Los Angeles and makes an appearance on the show.
The set decorator and her team used a variety of shopping resources, including EBay, Etsy and Craigslist. They also bought from retailers including Metro Retro Furniture in Texas and Dekor, Sunbeam Vintage and Wertz Bros. in Los Angeles, and scoured antique malls in Pasadena, Sherman Oaks and Orange. For vintage and retro fabrics, they visited Playclothes in Burbank and Michael Levine in L.A.
Didul lavished attention on Megan’s hippie-chic hideaway. “There is no maid here,” she said of the pine-paneled hillside residence, based on an actual 1952 one-bedroom bungalow. “Megan can relax in her small home.”
The living room has shaggy rya rugs, vintage lights, a Wendell Lovett conical freestanding fireplace, a brass tray coffee table, a camel saddle used as a stool and a hulking color TV console Don bought as a housewarming gift. The built-in bookcase features popular 1960s titles, including “The Peter Principle” and “I’m OK You’re OK,” as well as the classic 1951 wooden toy monkey by Danish designer Kay Bojesen.
As a final nod to the era, Didul purchased a Craigslist iron daybed for Megan and Don to nod off in while watching TV. She had it painted in a hazy purple selected by production designer Dan Bishop, and piled it with pillows, a serape and a Southwestern blanket. There’s no back story behind it, Didul said.
“It was just a gut feeling. An iron daybed felt right for a Laurel Canyon home of the period. And the pillows made it very inviting.”