1960’s Style is Swinging Again

- Wednesday, May 13, 2015

I think I may be feeling a bit depressed. Tonight one of my favorite television shows, Mad Men, is coming to an end. After 7 seasons, the stylish series is wrapping up just as the decade in which it is set, the swingin’ 60’s, also comes to a close.

There are a lot of things I enjoy about this period drama. I appreciate the slow pace of the action, multitude of colorful characters, the exciting time period of Madison Avenue advertising, and the moody tone (which may have gone hand-in-hand with the full bar in every advertising executive’s office). But I think what really drew me first and foremost was the way the set designers and costumers captured the decade so brilliantly.

 My fascination of mid-century modern design and pop culture is never ending. Perhaps it is because I was born then. Most likely it is my fixation - or should I say appreciation - for the clean, modern, efficient and optimistic design ethos of that period. This is why I feel so many of the elements of mid-century modern design can work with our lifestyles right here in the Lowcountry.

 Dare I say, super groovy.

 So while I may be sad to see Don Draper and his cohorts fade into television history, I am very excited to see the ideas, themes, and characteristics of mid-century modern have been rediscovered in the world of home furnishings and décor. My trip last month up to High Point, NC, for the semi-annual International Furnishing Market confirmed it!

Vanguard Furniture was one highlight. I felt like I was in the same cocktail lounge with Angie, Frank, Dean and Sammy! All tweaked-out in colors and patterns like the Las Vegas vibe we remember, the showroom played classic movies on big television screens atop sleek entertainment consoles. Those bulky, old school TV armoires are so square, man.

Next door at the Hickory White showroom, acid-hued colors exploded on the walls in the Lillian August Collection. Like the joke wall from Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, audacious aubergine, pumped-up puce, and shocking chartreuse all mingled comfortably together like the bold patterns you would find on a Pucci dress or a Merimekko shower curtain. Chunky, stylized, gilt hardware dressed drawer fronts and doors like a piece of Henry Moore sculpture. The showroom just dazzled.

Across town, typically traditional Hickory Chair had embraced the trend too. Here consoles with tapered legs, low-slung sectionals, and exotically patterned textiles graced the showroom and recalled the work of decorating guru David Hicks.

Don’t get me wrong, the Mad Men aesthetic is not for everyone.  But I like the way it has added a renewed nostalgic dimension to design and glamour. Think of the classic Lincoln Continentals of the 1960’s, minimal, elegant, effortlessly stylish. Maybe a welcome alternative to all the large scaled and ornamented faux-chateaux interiors or those pining for a change from the “Pottery Barn/Restoration Hardware” rustic chic salvage look. And as much as I am drawn to our nature-inspired palette of earthy browns and mossy greens, sometimes I just crave a punch of psychedelic saffron or outrageous orange thrown in to spice it up a bit.

I am excited at the new opportunities to employ some of my favorite mid-century modern motifs in upcoming projects for my clients. It will be a chance to look toward the future while giving a nod to the past.

 I hope tonight’s martini will help me get over my Mad Men is ending funk. By the way, how long until the next season of Downton Abbey begins?

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