The TV show “Mad Men” an Example of How Not to Design Your Office

Now that the new season of “Mad Men,” the cable show that depicts the day to day personal and business activities of a New York advertising agency in the 1960’s, is back on the air, we begin to notice once again what it was like working in a large office a half century ago.  One of the first things we see are the IBM Selectric typewriters instead of computers on every secretary’s desk.  Next, we notice how segmented the office is.  There are conference rooms, and large corner offices for the executives, each with a desk and secretary posted at the entrance.

If we were able to plan this space today, it would appear quite different.  Not only would the typewriters be gone, so would the desktop computer.  In “Mad Men,” we often see the creative team working in a break or conference room, where they can stretch out, have room for their sketches and yellow pads, and collaborate with one another.  That’s exactly what the modern office needs today, places that encourage collaboration, and allow workers room to access their I-pods, laptop, or tablet computers.

Following another modern trend, the “Mad Men’s” conference room would most likely be empty most of the day, and at New York office rates, that’s a giant waste of space and money.  As a collaboration space, the old conference room now draws together creative thinkers able to easily share ideas and create the next annoying commercials you will see on TV.

Watching “Mad Men,” it’s amazing that they ever come up with any good ideas within a space that seems designed to hide and protect people and ideas from one another.  If your office still resembles the fictional ad agency of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, you’re fully prepared to take on the 1960’s.  If you want to take on the twenty first century, then it’s time to contact the office creators at Workspace Solutions.


(“Mad Men” airs Sunday nights on the AMC Cable Network.  You can view an artists depiction of the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce office by clicking here. )