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Watching 'Mad Men,' Boomers Revisit Their Youth

The show's meticulous re-creation of the 1960s casts a powerful spell

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The new Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce offices

Don Draper (Jon Hamm), Duck Philips (Mark Moses) and Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) make office politics look cool. — Courtesy AMC

The Office

When Didul joined the show at the start of the fourth season, she was thrown right into the fire of its artistic process. Her first assignment from show creator and writer Matthew Weiner was huge: Design the then-sparkling new SCDP offices.

In Mad Men time, the switch took place in 1964, and the new space marked an important tonal and visual shift, away from the staid traditional look at the old established agency.

Roger Sterling’s office was reflective of the scrappy new start-up’s fresh look: chrome details that were then becoming popular, long windows for more natural light, pop art on the walls and hip, minimalist furniture Didul found in commercial architecture books of the era gave the space a bright, forward-looking vibe.

The furniture in the mod Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce offices that looks so hip to present-day viewers would more likely have been found in drab settings like hospitals or insurance offices in the '60s.

The work drew raves from viewers and designers alike, and it introduced her to the Mad Men set machinery, which starts with the legendarily secretive Weiner's vision of precisely how he wants a scene to look. He relays his thoughts to production designer Dan Bishop and Didul, who then leads a crew of more than a dozen whose job is to research, track down, procure and set up every piece of scenery.

For ideas, she combs through vintage decorating magazines from the era like Architectural Digest and House and Garden. Some of her best and most surprising sources are those commercial architecture and decorating books — the furniture in the mod Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce offices that looks so hip to present-day viewers would more likely have been found in drab settings like hospitals or insurance offices in the '60s.

The search for inspiration is often easier than the hunt for the actual items. The team searches antique stores, both brick-and-mortar and online, and keeps a close eye on auction and classified sites like eBay, Etsy and Craigslist.

Next page: Don Draper does Manhattan. »

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