A Chair is the First Executive not only in the Office of Don Draper in Mad Men
The real pop-cultural story and historic references of the black “Mid-Century modern” design chair that can be spotted in Don’s (Jon Hamm) and Roger Sterling’s (John Slattery) bureau in Mad Men. This is actually the same iconic “Time Life Executive” chair, model ES 105, that stands in few SCDP corporate offices and also in some executive meeting rooms.
DVD Screencap, ©2008 AMC
The legendary designer couple, Ray and Charles Eames created the design classic in 1960 for the furniture manufacturer, Hermann Miller.
The soft black leather and aluminum swivel chair was once produced for the lobby of the ultra-modern Time-Life building in New York.
Even though the chair was named after the company that it was original built for, only few know that it was also named
Time Life, because the comfortable chair was designed to have, literally, the
time of your life when sitting in it.
And while this story already fits perfectly to the authentic Mad Men setting and the atmosphere in the advertising agency, another interesting trivia is attached to this particular seat.
In fact, the chair is also known as the
Bobby Fischer, named after the genius and a bit weird chess master who won the World Chess Championship in 1972 as the first US American while sitting in this chair.
Bobby Fischer specifically requested this chair for his match against his Russian opponent Boris Spaasky in Reykjavik, with the historic statement, that the wooden
Eastern Bloc chairs are too uncomfortable.
The menace that Bobby Fischer wouldn’t proceed with the tournament without the Eames chair since he could concentrate much better sitting on it, made the seat legendary.
The remarkable part is, that after Bobby Fischer received what he demanded, he won match after match, which is why the chair played a leading role in the during the Cold War.
Finally, and when embodying all these factoids, the chair symbolizes perfectly Don’s status and character of a winner type and genius with an egocentric touch.
DVD Screencap, ©2008 AMC
While it’s not clear if the Mad Men set decorator Claudette Didul had all these historic references in mind when choosing this chair for Don Draper and for some other executives in the SCDP office, it seems like an interesting trivia and reasonable assumption.
Click here for more Mad Men scene pictures where the Time Life Executive chairs can be clearly seen.