On the heels of the Season 6 finale of the hit television series "Mad Me," PreservationNation Blog recently interviewed the show's creator and main writer Matthew Weiner about his work with the Los Angeles Conservancy (http://www.laconservancy.org), his love of places, and why he believes the main character Don Draper is a preservationist. For those of you not familiar with the television series, the show centers around the lives and loves of the people at the fictional advertising agency Sterling, Cooper, Draper, Price. In particular, it focuses on the Gatsby-esque main character Don Draper. Part of the show's appeal is that it's set in sixties New York and Matthew Weiner's fanatic attention to period detail. I love the show because the very cool vibe it gives off. So, today's blog will feature images of Los Angeles and New York in the sixties. Enjoy.
|The Miracle Mile|
|Ada Louise Huxtable|
|LAX Theme Building|
Paul Williams, architect (shown)
|Case Study House #22|
What makes the sixties so attractive to Mr. Weiner, as well as a lot of people? For Mr. Weiner, the story arcs from the period come from his childhood. Personally speaking, much of the story constructions from my childhood could be illustrated in neutral shades punctuated with color, but I digress. According to Mr. Weiner, "I think the part of the story I was tell was that most of the construction from that period was very commonplace from my childhood and aging...associated (somewhat negatively) with big, aging businesses or government institutions." I suppose you can relate the characters of Roger Sterling and Bert Cooper to the aging buildings of pre-World War II New York, falling into obsolescence, while Don Draper is more like the buildings that went up immediately follow the Second World War, reinventing the urban landcape and investing
|WTC under construction|
For Mr. Weiner, the extension of Modernism is part of the excitement of about new materials. I would also like to add a new sense of energy. Much like his like the fictitious Ms. Olson and Mr. Campbell, according to Mr. Weiner, the architecture of the period had a sense of idealism. However, that idealism became a commercial. However, as Mr. Weiner rightly points out that Modernism has a real philosophical foundation to it, putting humanity into the environment. Thus, we can make the analogy between this philosophy and Don Draper's philosophy of a good product, good ad. Make the user connect with the product. Perhaps, the idea of putting people in the built environment can be evidenced in the affordable housing boom of the post-war period.
The was this real urban planning initiative in the post-war period to make housing affordable for the average person. How could that be accomplished? Do ordinary people deserve a beautiful environment or is that just for the wealthy? That questions sounds silly doesn't it? Oddly, the materials that we associate with corporate America, steel and glass, were the cheap building materials of the immediate post-war era. They cheaper to produce, but according to Mr. Weiner, a more beautiful living experience. I live in a building that's made of concrete, glass, and steel frame and I wouldn't exactly consider it a more beautiful living experience but that's just me. Business and people's attitudes about their living spaces were more conservative. New things are scary and evoke an immediate negative response. However, in the sixties, thanks in part to the youthful energy, people were open to new ideas about their living spaces.
Is Don Draper a closet preservationist. Matthew Weiner says absolutely. While Don Draper has particular tastes, he's open to new ideas, and fighting the battle over what to save and what to throw out.