The Mad Men sets are meticulously crafted with original and replica furniture from the 1960s and the mid-century modern aesthetic captures the structure and ethos of the era’s workplace, emphasizing hierarchy, separation of responsibilities and the influence of gender roles.
Obviously the contemporary office has changed dramatically in the last 50 years or so, most notably in the tech industry. Work styles are more fluid, interactive, and mobile and office design has evolved to meet these trends.
So Knoll, a company whose furniture is all over the Mad Men set, asked six industrial designers to use its research on the way people work, and create new furnishings that would make our lives better, more collaborative and more modern. Essentially asking, “what would Don Draper’s workspace look like if he were an exec at a tech start-up?”
The key to the today’s office space is remix potential, and Knoll’s got it covered. Their Antennae line of office furniture, for example, is green, ergonomically correct and designed to facilitate colleague collaboration.
At eBay the workspaces are populated with modular, flexible furniture with a mix and match vibe. The tables are bench-style and the office is dotted with private meeting spaces and open spaces for cooperation. Draper, still likely sitting in a classic tulip chair, would be at home with the sleek modern aesthetic but would also be able to work as a tech guru would—in a flexible, open plan space, ready to brainstorm with his buddies about their next bold move.
Desks, tables, screens and storage of Knoll’s new Antennae line combine and recombine in a seemingly infinite number of ways for open plan environments, private offices and meeting spaces. Counter height tables and adjustable, seated-to-standing height desks facilitate a range of work postures. You can work at a long table with your colleagues and chat about an idea or share a cat video and then hide behind your private screen to focus and get some work done.
When in 50 years our grandchildren are making TV shows about the dramas of Silicon Valley, they’ll be referring to these designs to replicate the workplace vibe of the 2010s. Maybe by then the story of The Social Network will be turned into a kitschy comedy about the geeks of the “digital revolution.”