"Look at their products. They love design" said Don Draper to Roger Sterling on last Sunday's airing of Mad Men. In this scene, the creative executive, Draper, was grilling the founding partner of SterlingCooperDraperPrice for his racist behavior toward their potential new client, Honda.
And this sums up why I cannot miss a single episode of this great TV show. A show whose base is a creative industry got me hooked in the first season. Don Draper, the all-American anti-hero is the show's anchor. Not withstanding his dark side, he represents what many designers aspire to be: a creative genius with a passion for his craft. There's that one memorable scene in Season 1 when he chastises a more conservative client for being a non-believer in the more risky and challenging work that the firm could produce for them. How many times have we wanted to say that during our less-successful client-designer relationships? And yes, I must admit, that Mr. Draper's pitching performances are mythical boardroom heroics that we dream of executing oneday.
Draper's creative muscle and references to industrial design aside, you've got to love their set design. How could any design professional not watch a show that has Castiglioni's Arco floor lamp as a prop? In fact, the whole SCDP office could be a template for cool interior design.
I imagine many people watch Mad Men out of nostalgia for the 1960s. And I guess I too must be counted among them. The 60s was a fantastic era for car design. But more importantly, it was a time when off-shoring of manufacturing didn't occur. The Kodak Carousel which appeared in a famous episode during Season 1 was actually made a few hours drive from SterlingCooper's Madison Avenue office.
While some argue that Mad Men is indeed a reflection of the fact that in some areas, we've still haven't progressed that much beyond the 1960s, it must be said we industrial designers rejoice when we too can boast "Look at their products. They love design." Because sadly in 2010, there are still companies out there that don't get it.